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United Dominion Mgmt. Co. v. District of Columbia Rental Hous. Comm'n

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

October 16, 2014

UNITED DOMINION MANAGEMENT COMPANY, PETITIONER,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA RENTAL HOUSING COMMISSION, RESPONDENT, and BRIAN HINMAN, INTERVENOR

Argued June 10, 2014.

Petitions for Review of the District of Columbia Rental Housing Commission. (RH-TP-06-28728; RH-TP-06-28707; RH-TP-06-28749).

Vincent Mark J. Policy, with whom Richard W. Luchs was on the brief, for petitioner and for amicus curiae Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington.

James C. McKay, Jr., Senior Assistant Attorney General, with whom Irvin B. Nathan, Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General, and Loren L. AliKhan, Deputy Solicitor General, were on the brief, for respondent.

John E. Logan for intervenor.

Before GLICKMAN, EASTERLY, and MCLEESE, Associate Judges.

OPINION

Page 427

Easterly, Associate Judge :

In this consolidated appeal,[1] we address certain types of rent ceiling increases and when they may be challenged under the relevant statute of limitations. Specifically, we are asked to apply the statute of limitations in the Rental Housing Act (" RHA" ), which provides that " [n]o petition may be filed with respect to any rent adjustment . . . more than 3 years after the effective date of the adjustment," D.C. Code § 42-3502.06 (e) (2012 Repl.), to the following scenario: (1) a landlord files the necessary amended registration form with the Rent Administrator for a claimed rent ceiling increase, but the form is filed late--that is, the landlord failed to properly " take and perfect" the rent ceiling increase as required by relevant regulations, see 14 DCMR § § 4204.10 (c), 4207.5 (1986), (2) more than three years pass, (3) the landlord raises the rent pursuant to the improperly perfected rent ceiling increase, and (4) the tenants then, within three years, seek to challenge their rent increase pursuant to the improperly perfected rent ceiling increase.

We uphold as a reasonable interpretation and application of D.C. Code § 42-3502.06 (e) the RHC's determination that, under these circumstances, an improperly perfected rent ceiling increase is not " effective" until it is implemented through a corresponding increase in rent charged, and thus the statute of limitations in this scenario begins to run from the date of the

Page 428

demanded rent increase. Even though rent ceilings have been abolished in the District, the resolution of this case may elucidate the proper application of the statute of limitations for other similar cases still pending before the RHC.

Of more general application, we clarify the proper standard of review that this court must apply to decisions of the RHC, and that the RHC must apply at the outset when it considers an appeal from the determination of an Office of ...


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