A LEGAL VICTORY -- GABRIEL FINEMAN V. EQUITY RESIDENTIAL

Tenants won a big victory when the Rental Housing Commission issued a ruling overturning a lower administrative court decision in the case Gabriel Fineman v. Equity Residential. The opinion states that "rent" is the amount the tenant pays, not the fictitious much higher amount that Equity claims is the "maximum legal rent." Equity is planning to appeal to the Court of Appeals, but it is likely that the higher court will uphold the decision.

After losing the Fineman cases on appeal, Equity Residential submitted a motion asking the Rental Housing Commission to reconsider its decision. However, the RHC issued an even stronger ruling rejecting Equity's claim that it could base rent increases on amounts that are hundreds of dollars or more above market prices. The decision specifically states that rent increases must be based on the actual rent paid.

Nevertheless, Equity Residential continues to break the law, claiming that it doesn't have to change its behavior until its appeal of the RHC decision is heard at the DC Court of Appeals.