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State REALTOR® association endorses Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), four Democrats in June 21 Council primaries; no endorsements in two contests

The District of Columbia Association of REALTORS® (DCAR) has endorsed Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) for re-election, as well as four candidates who are competing in primaries for the D.C. Council’s June 21 election.
The selected candidates are:

  • U.S. Congress – Eleanor Holmes Norton (D)
  • Mayor – Muriel Bowser (D)
  • Attorney General – Brian Schwalb
  • Council Chairman – Phil Mendelson (D)
  • Council At-Large – Anita Bonds (D)
  • Ward 1 – No endorsement
  • Ward 3 – Eric Goulet (D)
  • Ward 5 – No endorsement
  • Ward 6 – Charles Allen (D)

During the last four months, DCAR’s REALTOR® Party Action Committee (RPAC) Trustees have been interviewing candidates to understand their vision and priorities for Washington, D.C. The member-led committee met with 20 candidates vying to serve the community and was moved by the ideas the endorsed candidates shared.

This election is a watershed moment for the District. We are moving into an endemic phase of COVID-19, and we’re facing pivotal challenges as we emerge from the pandemic. The past two
years deeply underscored housing’s fundamental necessity. 
Washington is one of the major epicenters of the housing affordability crisis; owning a home is becoming unobtainable for more and more District residents. Without a concentrated push to substantially increase housing supply, the American dream will continue to fade for many.

Additional details about each candidate can be found here.

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On March 7, DCAR testified before the D.C. Council’s Housing and Executive Administration, urging the Council to make remote online notarization (RON) permanent.

The pandemic shined a spotlight on how crucial virtual services are to the real estate industry. DCAR explained how RON would remove barriers and provide D.C. residents with access to notarial services, as it allows individuals to meet with notary publics virtually to execute documents. D.C. is one of the last states that has yet to adopt RON.

DCAR will provide updates as they become available.

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This week, the D.C. Council passed an omnibus bill that makes permanent many of the landlord-tenant provisions contained in the public health emergency legislation. Despite the new law, DCAR was successful at working with councilmembers to roll back/modify several large items found in the bill dealing with application fees, basic business license requirements, credit reporting and fair housing violations:

Application fee

Original language: $35 hard cap on application fees.

Final language: $50 cap but may be adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, beginning January 1, 2024.

 

Basic business license requirements

Original language: Housing providers wouldn’t have been able to file for an eviction without a basic business license (BBL).

Final language: The court may waive BBL requirements if the housing provider can show that they were unable to obtain or renew a license due to extenuating circumstances, including agency delays, medical emergencies and cases where the tenant does not permit entry for inspections/repairs.

 

Credit reporting

Original language: Housing providers could have been liable for adverse information received in a credit report.

Final language: Housing providers now have protection from information received in a credit report containing details that may not be used as the basis of an adverse action; provided that the housing provider did not specifically request or inquire about this information and can demonstrate that they did not base an adverse action on such information.

 

Fair housing violation

Original language: After an application denial, a prospective tenant could provide evidence of mitigating circumstances that demonstrate their fitness to meet tenancy obligations. The housing provider would then have three days to consider and respond to evidence, then offer to rent to the prospective tenant the next available rental unit.

Final language: This language was removed entirely.

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DCAR’s Public Policy Committee has created two new subcommittee that will focus on policy areas critically important to DCAR members: affordable housing and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA).

The Affordable Housing subcommittee will perform in-depth analysis on issues related to affordable housing, homeownership and property rights. Members include:

  • Hillary Nash, Chair
  • Michael Arias
  • Terinee Bonds
  • James Breau
  • Deirdre P. Brown
  • Thomas Castagnola
  • Olivia Kibler
  • Ellen Klein
  • Bonnie Roberts-Burke
  • Marj Rosner
  • Ansa Tyus

The DCRA subcommittee will be charged with conducting in-depth analysis on regulatory/policy issues affecting DCRA. Members include:

  • Jean Poitevien, Chair
  • Michael Arias
  • Amy Fisher
  • Virginia Gergoff
  • Ellen Klein
  • Richard Pearrell
  • Michael Taft

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Today, DCAR CEO Scott Reiter testified before the D.C. Council’s Committee on Housing and Executive Administration, chaired by Councilmember Anita Bonds, on a variety of topics important to our DCAR members. Today’s meeting was part of Chair Bond’s annual oversight of the D.C. Real Estate Commission.

DCAR asked the Commission to continue allowing virtual classes after the pandemic because the virtual format provides real estate professionals with more flexibility and access.

We also expressed criticism for the way the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) handled licensing issuance and renewals in 2021. Last year, the agency transitioned its computer system from an outside vendor to an in-house operation, which resulted in major disruptions to the professional lives of DCAR members.

Finally, we requested that DCAR be included in conversations involving licensing fees and the Real Estate Guaranty and Education Fund. The Commission proposed a $60 license fee increase in 2021, which DCAR helped reverse.

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Last week, the D.C. Council invited DCAR to comment at a public roundtable regarding the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCRA) enforcement of new short-term rental (STR) regulations, which begins April 10. At issue is the department’s decision to limit the area of a home that can be used as a STR to the accessory dwelling unit, such as an English basement or mother-in-law suite.

In his testimony, DCAR Treasurer Colin Johnson stated, “DCRA’s implementation of short-term rental regulations is hampering District homeowners from exercising their property rights within statutory and zoning guidelines.”

Under the STR law previously passed by the D.C. Council, there was no stipulation on what area of a home could be used as a STR, whether it was the primary dwelling unit or accessory dwelling unit. For example, some homeowners may want to live in their English basement and use their primary unit as a STR. Furthermore, the D.C. Zoning Commission made an exception for STRs in the zoning regulations, allowing the homeowner to choose whether to rent out their main home or the accessory dwelling unit.

Now, however, DCRA is proposing to limit the area of a home that can be used as a STR to only the accessory unit. In the example above, DCRA would not allow the homeowner to turn their primary dwelling area into a STR. Johnson stated that a homeowner’s only recourse is a lengthy appeals process and called on the Council to cure this issue.

We will provide updates as they become available.

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The most recent foreclosure moratorium for owner-occupied homes expired on Jan. 5, 2022, and the District is in the process of receiving $50 million in federal aid to assist low- and moderate-income homeowners who are having trouble making payments due to the pandemic. However, the program to disburse these funds has not yet been finalized by the District’s Office of Finance and Treasury.

DCAR advocated for the extension of the foreclosure moratorium, as we believe it will stave off an immediate housing emergency. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.

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As part of the District’s Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration, a toll, or pause, was put into effect for the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) for the duration of the PHE. As a result, pending sales of rental properties were slowed or halted due to the inability to have meetings.

On Friday, Jan. 14, DCAR learned of a foreclosure moratorium bill authored by Councilmember Janeese Lewis George. Councilmember Anita Bonds included a narrowly written amendment that would extend the toll for the organizing phase of the TOPA process to March 31.

Shortly after, DCAR sent a letter to D.C. Council members urging councilmembers to consider passing the bill without the tolling extension, explaining that the omicron variant shouldn’t be a barrier for tenants and tenant advocates navigating the rules and procedures of the TOPA process when virtual platforms and other methods exist for holding meetings.

Councilmember Elissa Silverman reached out to DCAR after the letter was sent to broker a compromise on the amendment’s duration. Due to DCAR’s advocacy efforts and subsequent negotiations, the tolling duration was rolled back to Feb. 15. The bill now heads to Mayor Bowser for her signature.

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Congratulations to the following DCAR members who have been selected to serve on our 2022 Public Policy Committee!

 

  • Anthony Graham, Chair
  • Michael Arias
  • Terinee Bonds
  • James Braeu
  • Deirdre P. Brown
  • Chuck Burger
  • Elizabeth Burgess
  • Carol Lynn Calomiris
  • Thomas Castagnola
  • Amy Fisher
  • Virginia Gergoff
  • Olivia Kibler
  • Ellen Klein
  • Larry McAdoo
  • Hugh McDermott
  • Hillary Nash
  • Richard Pearrell
  • Jean Poitevien
  • Bonnie Roberts-Burke
  • Yanira Rodriguez
  • Marjorie Rosner
  • Frank Snodgrass
  • Annemarie Stephens
  • Michael Taft
  • Ansa Tyus
  • Tracey Williams Barnett

 

 

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On Dec. 15, 2021, we installed our 2022 DCAR leadership team, with Thomas Daley as our 2022 president. Thank you to everyone who attended our Annual Meeting & Installation and helped make it a success!

We are proud to present your 2022 leadership team:

Executive Committee
President: Thomas Daley
President-elect: Anthony Mancuso
Secretary: Stacey Barton
Treasurer: Colin Johnson
Immediate Past President: Frederic Bates

Directors
April Contee
Andrea Fleming
Jennifer Frewer
Samuel Medvene
Jean Poitevien
Bonnie Roberts-Burke
Ansa Tyus

GCAAR president
Harrison Beacher

Presidential appointees
Katalin Peter
Marty Stanton

NAR directors
Dianah Shaw
Christopher Suranna

Public Policy Committee Chair
Anthony Graham

CEO – Ex-officio
Scott Reiter

Thank you to 2021 President Frederic Bates and the entire 2021 board for your contributions. We are confident 2022 will be another year of successes!