1270. Changes in Number of Tenants
(A) Base Occupancy Level.
The base occupancy level for a unit shall be the number of tenants allowed by any lease or rental agreement for the unit, between June 1, 1979 and May 31, 1980, or the highest number of tenants actually occupying the unit, with the landlord's knowledge, as a principal residence, between June 1, 1979 and May 31, 1980, whichever is greater or, for units that had an initial rent established on or after January 1, 1999, the number of tenants allowed by any lease or rental agreement entered into at the beginning of the current tenancy, including any tenant considered an original occupant under Regulation 1013(O)(5). If documentation establishing the historic base occupancy level is not available, the hearing examiner may use another appropriate period to determine the base occupancy level, or may otherwise determine an appropriate base occupancy level for the unit. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, it shall be presumed that the base occupancy level for a unit was not less than one tenant per bedroom. A declaration under penalty of perjury attesting to personal knowledge of the actual base occupancy level normally shall not by itself be considered sufficient to rebut this presumption. A party who lacks personal knowledge of the base occupancy level may not stipulate to a base occupancy level of less than one tenant per bedroom.
(B) Increase in Tenants
(1) If the number of tenants allowed by the lease or rental agreement and actually occupying a unit as a principal residence has increased above the base occupancy level for that unit, then the rent ceiling for the unit shall be increased by 10% for each additional tenant above the base occupancy level, in addition to any rent ceiling adjustment to which the landlord is otherwise entitled. A petition seeking rent adjustments solely for increased tenants will be processed under subsections (D), (E) and (F) of this regulation.
(2) No rent ceiling increase for additional tenants, as provided for in subsection (B)(1), shall be granted for any additional tenant who is a spouse, registered domestic partner, child, or parent of any of the original tenants, unless the original tenants agree in writing to the specific rent ceiling increase. "Original tenants" means the sitting tenants who agreed with the landlord to rent the unit at the beginning of the current tenancy.
(3) If the number of tenants actually occupying a rental unit as a principal residence decreases subsequent to any rent ceiling increase for additional tenants granted pursuant to subsection (B)(1), then the rent ceiling for that unit shall automatically decrease, by the amount of the rent ceiling increase that is no longer justified, as a result of the decrease in the number of tenants.
(C) Decrease in Number of Tenants Allowed.
If any policy or policies imposed by the landlord reduces the number of tenants allowed to occupy a rental unit as a principal residence to a number less than the base occupancy level for that unit, then the rent ceiling for that unit shall be decreased by an amount equal to the percentage by which the number of allowable tenants has been reduced. As used in this regulation, "policy" or "policies" means any rule, course of conduct, act or actions by a landlord. This reduction shall not apply when the number of tenants allowed to occupy the rental unit at the commencement of the tenancy was less than the base occupancy level for the unit.
(D) Petitions; Notice.
To obtain a rent increase under subsection (B)(1) only, a landlord must file with the Board the original petition and supporting documentation and one copy of the completed petition with an addressed, postage-paid envelope for each affected unit. By the conclusion of the next business day, the Board shall mail to the tenants of each affected unit a copy of the petition and a notice which states that the tenant has a right to object to the petition, lists the possible objections as set forth in subsection (E) and states that if the tenant does not file an objection on any of the grounds listed in subsection (E) within twenty-five (25) days of the filing of the petition, the rent for the tenant's unit may be increased by the applicable amount under subsection (B)(1), based on the information in the landlord's petition and the Board's files. A proof of service stating the date and place of mailing, and to whom and to what addresses the petitions and notices were sent, shall be retained in the petition file.
(E) Grounds for Tenant Objection.
Tenants subject to petitions under subsection (B)(1) may file objections with the Board within twenty-five (25) days of the filing of the petition. Failure to file an objection on any ground specified in this subsection shall constitute a waiver of the right to a hearing on the petition. Such objections must be made on one or more of the following grounds:
(1) The base occupancy level alleged by the landlord is incorrect; however, a tenant may not contest a base occupancy level that was established in a prior decision;
(2) The number of tenants alleged by the landlord as being currently allowed by the lease and actually occupying the unit as a principal residence is incorrect;
(3) An additional tenant claimed by the landlord as justifying a rent increase is a spouse, registered domestic partner, child or parent of any of the original tenants and the original tenant(s) did not agree in writing to an increase for such person(s);
(4) The unit is not eligible to receive annual general adjustments for any period since its rent was last certified or individually adjusted by the Board. Any such objection shall identify each challenged annual general adjustment and the reason for the alleged ineligibility;
(5) The landlord is collecting rent in excess of the lawful rent ceiling; or
(6) The unit is substantially deteriorated, fails to comply substantially with applicable state rental housing laws or local housing, building, health and safety codes, or the landlord does not currently provide adequate housing services.
(F) Rent Increases.
(1) Within ten (10) days of the closing of the record, the Board shall issue a decision increasing the lawful rent ceiling, pursuant to subsection (B)(1), for any unit where no tenant timely objects on a ground listed in subsection (E), and where the evidence submitted supports the assertions in the petition and substantially conforms to the records of the Board. The record closes twenty-five (25) days after the filing of the petition or upon the filing of express written waivers of the right to a hearing signed by all affected tenants, whichever is sooner. The Board shall serve a copy of the decision on all parties.
(2) For any unit where no tenant files a timely objection, and where the evidence submitted does not support the assertions in the petition or information in the petition does not substantially conform to the records of the Board, the Board shall notify the petitioner that the petition will be dismissed unless the petitioner cures the defect within thirty (30) days of receiving notice of the defect. The Board shall issue a decision on the petition within ten (10) days of receipt of the petitioner's response.
(3) For any unit where a tenant objects, the Board shall set the petition for an individual rent adjustment hearing and so notify the landlord and tenants pursuant to Regulation 1223. Individual rent adjustment hearings pursuant to this regulation may be consolidated with hearings on other issues concerning the same units.
(4) Individual rent adjustment determinations under subsection (B)(1) shall be based only on the issues raised by the petition and the specific objections made pursuant to subsection (E). Where an objection is found to be valid, the rent increase authorized under this regulation shall be reduced, denied or deferred, as the hearing examiner or Board determines to be appropriate. Any increase which is deferred due to a valid tenant objection shall be made effective upon submission of proof of compliance, subject to Regulation 1250.
[As amended April 8, 1995; December 5, 1997 and December 27, 1998]; amended (C) April 1, 2002]