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Carpenter v. District of Columbia Rental Housing Comm'n

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

July 2, 2015

JO CARPENTER, PETITIONER,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA RENTAL HOUSING COMMISSION, RESPONDENT, and THE MARKSWRIGHT COMPANY, INC., INTERVENOR

Argued: September 17, 2014. [*]

Decided: December 10, 2014.

On Petition for Review of a Decision of the District of Columbia Rental Housing Commission. (RH-TP No. 29,840-10).

Paul Strauss, with whom Justin M. DiBlassio and Richard J. Bianco were on the brief, for petitioner.

Debra Fischer Leege, with whom Richard W. Luchs was on the brief, for intervenor.

Irvin B. Nathan, Attorney General for the District of Columbia at the time the brief was filed, Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General, Loren L. AliKhan, Deputy Solicitor General, and James C. McKay, Jr., Senior Assistant Attorney General, filed a statement in lieu of brief in support of intervenor.

Before WASHINGTON, Chief Judge, MCLEESE, Associate Judge, and BELSON, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 684

Washington, Chief Judge:

Jo Carpenter appeals from a decision of the District of Columbia Rental Housing Commission (" Commission" ) finding that her housing provider, The Markswright Company, Inc. (" Markswright" ), did not illegally increase her rent in violation of the Rental Housing Act of 1985, D.C. Code § § 42-3501.01 to -3509.07 (2014) (the " Act" ). Specifically, Ms. Carpenter alleges that the Commission erred in concluding that the Act does not require a signature on Notices of Rent Increase and that the Notice of Rent Increase filed in this case was properly admitted into evidence. We affirm.

I.

Ms. Carpenter is a resident of Brandywine Apartments, located at 4545 Connecticut Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C. Ms. Carpenter resides in Unit 928. Ms. Carpenter received Notices of Rent Increase in 2007 and 2009, both of which were signed by Lucy Bolton, an employee of Markswright. Ms. Bolton is not registered as a property manager in the District of Columbia.

On March 16, 2010, Ms. Carpenter filed Tenant Petition RH-TP-10-29,480 with the Rental Accommodations Division (" RAD" ) alleging that Markswright increased her rent in violation of various provisions of the Act. After an evidentiary hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings (" OAH" ), the Administrative Law Judge (" ALJ" ) who heard the case dismissed all of Ms. Carpenter's claims with prejudice, concluding that Ms. Carpenter failed to prove that Markswright illegally increased her rent. On September 12, 2011, Ms. Carpenter appealed the ALJ's decision to the Commission, arguing that the ALJ erred in concluding that the Notice of Rent Increase sent to her did not require a signature to be effective and that the ALJ's decision to admit into evidence the 2007 and 2009 Notices of Rent Increase that were sent to her by Markswright, specifically Housing Provider's Exhibits 200 (" RX 200" ) and 201 (" RX 201" ), ...


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