WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Tenants in D.C. are seeking relief as rent increases are set to hit a 40-year high for rent-stabilized units.

“People are shocked,” said Damiana Dendy. “I am definitely considering other places, I don’t know how long I can stay here if my rent goes up that much.”

Dendy said she’s lived in three rent-controlled units since moving to the District. But, she’s never seen rent increases like the ones expected to start on May 1.

Earlier this year, the DC Rental Housing Commission set the rent increase cap at 8.9%, meaning landlords of rent controlled units can raise their rents by that much for a tenant’s next lease term this year. The number is set according to inflation, or the consumer price index, which is 6.9% for 2023; plus, an additional 2%.

That means if you are paying $2,000 a month in a rent-controlled apartment, your landlord can raise your rent by $178 a month on a your new lease term this year.

Dendy is worried the hike will displace her and others.  

“Yeah, I’m definitely nervous about that,” she said. “Since the pandemic, we’ve been struggling. I’ve been definitely struggling to get back on my feet to where I was before.”

Dendy works as a housing organizer with DC Jobs with Justice. The group plans to hold a rally Saturday at 5 p.m. to call for rent caps at 5%.

Some councilmembers are trying to take action.

Councilmember Robert White submitted temporary emergency legislation that would knock off the additional 2%, setting the cap at the CPI.

Councilmember Zachary Parker is calling for the caps to be limited to 5%.

Organizations like the Small Multifamily Owners Association are against the proposed changes. The agency said landlords are “under attack.”

The DC Landlords Association acknowledged this is a sensitive issue and said landlords and tenants need to work collaboratively.

In a statement, the agency said, “as it relates to unilaterally modifying the current cap on rent-controlled units, this will cause a direct financial burden to Landlords who are still recovering from the effects of the global pandemic… more restrictions, obstacles and hoops for Landlords to jump through is not the answer.”