Cynthia

Cynthia’s turning point
Affordable Housing Preserved: Residents Connected to TOPA

Cynthia lived in her rent-controlled building for 6 years. She was grateful for affordable housing but issues with her electricity, water, and the building’s security became apparent early on. Her building’s owners would not address any of her or her neighbors’ concerns and instead notified them that their rent would be increased by 18%.

“We need to make sure that these [landlords] keep in mind that it is people like us that helped build the City in the first place. We do have a right to be here.”

Cynthia and her fellow tenants immediately sought assistance from LEDC staff who connected them with a pro-bono lawyer. Together they filed an objection to the rent increase, which the landlord had filed as a “hardship petition.” While rent increases in rent-controlled buildings are capped at 10%, landlords can petition the City to increase rents to a level that allows for a 12% rate of return on their investments in their rental properties.

Shortly after the threat of the rent increase, the landlords informed the tenants that their building would be put up for sale. Our organizers then transitioned to assist tenants with the sale of their building by helping them navigate the District’s Tennant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) process. Cynthia and her neighbors decided they would select a third-party purchaser and not purchase the building as a co-op. They shared their wants and needs with their selected buyer and were able to negotiate affordable rents for all 55 of their units.

“I cannot express my gratitude enough for LEDC and I think that [LEDC’s] work here is very important. I’m hoping that [LEDC] will be here for many years to come.”

“We need to make sure that these people [landlords] keep in mind that it is people like us that helped build the City in the first place. We do have a right to be here.” – Cynthia