United States Statutes at Large/Volume 41/66th Congress/1st Session/Chapter 80
[Public, No. 63.]
Food Control and District of Columbia Rents Act.Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That this Act may be cited as "The Food Control and the District of Columbia Rents Act."Food control.
Title I.—Food Control Act Amendments.
Amendments. Vol. 40, p. 276, amended.That section one of the Act entitled "An Act to provide further for the national security and defense by encouraging the production, conserving the supply, and controlling the distribution of food products and fuel," approved August 10, 1917, is hereby amended to read as follows:
Conserving supply of designated necessaries essential during the war."That by reason of the existence of a state of war, it is essential to the national security and defense, for the successful prosecution of the war and for the support and maintenance of the Army and Navy, to assure an adequate supply and equitable distribution, and to facilitate the movement of foods, feeds, wearing apparel, Wearing apparel and food containers added.containers primarily designed or intended for containing foods, feeds, or fertilizers; fuel, including fuel oil and natural gas, and fertilizer and fertilizer ingredients, tools, utensils, implements, machinery, and equipment required for the actual production of foods, feeds, and fuel, hereafter in this Act called necessaries; to prevent,Prevention of scarcity, etc. locally or generally, scarcity, monopolization, hoarding, injurious speculation, manipulation, and private controls affecting such supply, distribution, and movement; Government control.
Means created.and to establish and maintain governmental control of such necessaries during the war. For such purposes the instrumentalities, means, methods, powers, authorities, duties, obligations, and prohibitions hereinafter set forth are created, established, conferred, and prescribed. Authority vested in the President.The President is authorized to make such regulations and to issue such orders as are essential effectively to carry out the provisions of this Act."
Vol. 40, p. 277, amended.Sec. 2. That section 4 of such Act of August 10, 1917, is hereby amended to read as follows:
Enhancing price to restrict supply, hoarding, etc., unlawful.
Vol. 40, p. 278."That it is hereby made unlawful for any person willfully to destroy any necessaries for the purpose of enhancing the price or restricting the supply thereof; knowingly to commit waste or willfully to permit preventable deterioration of any necessaries in or in connection with their production, manufacture, or distribution; to hoard, as defined in section 6 of this Act, any necessaries; to monopolize or attempt to monopolize, either locally or generally, any necessaries; Conspiracies, etc., to accomplish unlawful acts.to engage in any discriminatory and unfair, or any deceptive or wasteful practice or device, or to make any unjust or unreasonable rate or charge in handling or dealing in or with any necessaries; to conspire, combine, agree, or arrange with any other person, (a) to limit the facilities for transporting, producing, harvesting, manufacturing, supplying, storing, or dealing in any necessaries; (b) to restrict the supply of any necessaries; (c) to restrict distribution of any necessaries; (d) to prevent, limit, or lessen the manufacture or production of any necessaries in order to enhance the price thereof; or (e) to exact excessive prices for any necessaries, or to aid or abet the doing of any act made unlawful by this section. Punishment for violations.Any person violating any of the provisions of this section upon conviction thereof shall be fined not exceeding $5,000 or be imprisoned for not more than two years, or both: Proviso.
Agricultural occupations not affected.Provided, That this section shall not apply to any farmer, gardener, horticulturist, vineyardist, planter, ranchman, dairyman, stockman, or other agriculturist, with respect to the farm products produced or raised upon land owned, leased, or cultivated by him: Collective bargaining of farmers' associations, etc., not forbidden.Provided further, That nothing in this Act shall be construed to forbid or make unlawful collective bargaining by any cooperative association or other association of farmers, dairymen, gardeners, or other producers of farm products with respect to the farm products produced or raised by its members upon land owned, leased, or cultivated by them."
Former punishments for specified offenses, repealed.
Vol. 40, p. 279, repealed.Sec. 3. That sections 8 and 9 of the Act entitled "An Act to provide further for the national security and defense by encouraging the production, conserving the supply, and controlling the distribution of food products and fuel," approved August 10, 1917, be, and the same are hereby repealed: Proviso.
Continued for prior offenses.Provided, That any offense committed in violation of said sections 8 and 9, prior to the passage of this Act, may be prosecuted and the penalties prescribed therein enforced in the same manner and with the same effect as if this Act had not been passed.
Title II.—District of Columbia rents.
Meaning of terms.Sec. 101. When used in this title, unless the context indicates otherwise—
"Rental property."The term "rental property" means any building or part thereof or land appurtenant thereto in the District of Columbia rented or hired and the service agreed or required by law or by determination of the commission to be furnished in connection therewith; but does not include an hotel or apartment.
"Person."The term "person" includes an individual, partnership, association, or corporation.
"Hotel" or "apartment."The term "hotel" or "apartment" means any hotel or apartment or part thereof, in the District of Columbia, rented or hired and the land and outbuildings appurtenant thereto, and the service agreed or required by law or by determination of the commission to be furnished in connection therewith.
"Owner."The term "owner" includes a lessor or sublessor, or other person entitled to receive rent or charges for the use or occupancy of any rental property, hotel or apartment, or any interest therein, or his agent.
"Tenant."The term "tenant" includes a subtenant, lessee, sublessee or other person, not the owner, entitled to the use or occupancy of any rental property, hotel or apartment.
"Service."The term "service" includes the furnishing of light, heat, water, telephone or elevator service, furniture, furnishings, window shades, screens, awnings, storage, kitchen, bath and laundry facilities and privileges, maid service, janitor service, removal of refuse, making all repairs suited to the type of building or necessitated by ordinary wear and tear, and any other privilege or service connected with the use or occupancy of any rental property, apartment, or hotel.
"Commission."The term "commission" means the Rent Commission of the District of Columbia.
Sec. 102. Rent commission created.
Composition.A commission is hereby created and established, to be known as the Rent Commission of the District of Columbia, which shall be composed of three commissioners, none of whom shall be directly or indirectly engaged in, or in any manner interested in or connected with, the real estate or renting business in the District of Columbia. The commissioners shall be appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. Appointment, terms, etc.The term of each commissioner shall be two years, except that any person chosen to fill a vacancy shall be appointed only for the unexpired term of the commissioner whom he succeeds. The commission shall at the time of its organization and annually thereafter elect a chairman from its own membership. The commission may make such regulations as may be necessary to carry this title into effect.
Execution of powers.All powers and duties of the commission may be exercised by a majority of its members. A vacancy in the commission shall not impair the right of the remaining commissioners to exercise all the powers of the commission. The commission shall have an official seal, which shall be judicially noticed.
Sec. 103. Compensation.
Employees and expenses authorized.Each commissioner shall receive a salary of $5,000 a year, payable monthly. The commission shall appoint a secretary, who shall receive a salary of $3,000 a year, payable in like manner; and, subject to the provisions of the civil-service laws, it may appoint and remove such officers, employees, and agents and make such expenditures for rent, printing, telegrams, telephone, law books, books of reference, periodicals, furniture, stationery, office equipment, and other supplies and expenses as may be necessary to the administration of this title. Accounting.All of the expenditures of the commission shall upon the presentation of itemized vouchers therefor approved by the chairman of the commission be audited and paid in the same manner as other expenditures for the District of Columbia.
Appointments from Civil Service eligibles.With the exception of the secretary, all employees of the commission shall be appointed from lists of eligibles supplied by the Civil Service Commission and in accordance with the civil-service law.
Sec. 104. Assessor, D. C.
Advisory duties, etc.The assessor of the District of Columbia shall serve ex officio as an advisory assistant to the commission, but he shall have none of the powers or duties of a commissioner. Data from official records.He shall attend the meetings and hearings of the commission. Every officer or employee of the United States or of the District of Columbia, whenever requested by the commission, shall supply to the commission any data or information pertaining to the administration of this title which may be contained in the records of his office. Additional pay to assessor.The assessor shall receive for the performance of the duties required by this section a salary of $1,000 per annum, payable monthly, in addition to such other salary as may be prescribed for his office by law.
Authority to examine papers, etc.Sec. 105. For the purposes of this title the commission or any officer, employee, or agent duly authorized in writing by it, shall at all reasonable times have access to, for the purpose of examination, and the right to copy, any books, accounts, records, papers, Issue of subpœnas, etc.or correspondence relating to any matter which the commission is authorized to consider or investigate; and the commission shall have power to require by subpœna the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of all such books, accounts, records, papers, and correspondence relating to any such matter. Any member of the commission may sign subpœnas, administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses, and receive evidence.
Attendance, etc., at hearings.Such attendance of witnesses and the production of such books, accounts, records, papers, and correspondence may be required from any place in the United States at any designated place of hearing. In case of disobedience to a subpœna or of the contumacy of any witness appearing before the commission, Assistance of courts.the commission may invoke the aid of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia or of any district court of the United States. Such court may thereupon issue an order requiring the person subpœnaed to obey the subpœna, or to give evidence touching the matter in question. Contempt proceedings.
Divulging information forbidden.Any failure to obey such order of the court may be punished by such court as a contempt thereof. No officer or employee of the commission shall, unless authorized by the commission or by a court of competent jurisdiction, make public any information obtained by the commission.
Rents, etc., to be fair and reasonable.Sec. 106. For the purposes of this title it is declared that all (a) rental property and (b) apartments and hotels are affected with a public interest, and that all rents and charges therefor, all service in connection therewith, and all other terms and conditions of the use or occupancy thereof, shall be fair and reasonable; and any unreasonable or unfair provision of a lease or other contract for the use or occupancy of such rental property, apartment, or hotel with respect to such rents, charges, service, terms, or conditions is hereby declared to be contrary to public policy. Determination by Commission, on complaints, etc.The commission upon its own initiative may, or upon complaint shall, determine whether the rent, charges, service, and other terms or conditions of a lease or other contract for the use or occupancy of any such rental property, hotel, or apartment are fair and reasonable. Parties.
Post, p. 1634.Such complaints may be made (a) by or on behalf of any tenant, and (b) by any owner except where the tenant is in possession under a lease or other contract, the term specified in which has not expired, and the fairness and reasonableness of which has not been determined by the commission.
Public hearings.In all such cases the commission shall give notice personally or by registered mail and afford an opportunity to be heard to all parties in interest. The commission shall promptly hear and determine the issues involved in all complaints submitted to it. All hearings before the commission shall be open to the public. Determination of rates.
Post, p. 1634.If the commission determines that such rents, charges, service, or other terms or conditions are unfair or unreasonable, it shall determine and fix such fair and reasonable rent or charges therefor, and fair and reasonable service, terms, and conditions of use or occupancy. Effect in landlord and tenant suits.In any suit in any court of the United States or the District of Columbia involving any question arising out of the relation of landlord and tenant with respect to any rental property, apartment, or hotel, except on appeal from the commission's determination as provided in this title, such court shall determine the rights and duties of the parties in accordance with the determination and regulations of the commission relevant thereto.
Sec. 107. Determination effective from date of filing complaint.A determination of the commission fixing a fair and reasonable rent or charge made in a proceeding begun by complaint shall be effective from the date of the filing of the complaint. The Collection of difference between amount paid and fair rate.difference between the amount of rent and charges paid for the period from the filing of the complaint to the date of the commission's determination and the amount that would have been payable for such period at the fair and reasonable rate fixed by the commission may be added to or subtracted from, as the case demands, future rent payments, or after the final decision of an appeal from the commission's determination may be sued for and recovered in an action in the Municipal Court of the District of Columbia.
Sec. 108. Finality of Commission's determination.Unless within ten days after the filing of the commission's determination any party to the complaint appeals therefrom to the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, the determination of the commission shall be final and conclusive. Appeal to court of appeals.If such an appeal is taken from the determination of the commission, the record before the commission or such part thereof as the court may order shall be certified by it to the court and shall constitute the record before the court, and the commission's determination shall not be modified or set aside by the court, except for error of law. Order to hear additional evidence allowed.If any party applies to the court for leave to adduce additional evidence and shows to the satisfaction of the court that such additional evidence is material and that there were reasonable grounds for the failure to adduce such evidence in the proceeding before the commission, the court may order such additional evidence to be taken before the commission and to be adduced upon the hearing in such manner and upon such terms and conditions as the court may deem proper. Modification of findings as to facts, etc., upon.The commission may modify its findings as to the facts, or make new findings, by reason of the additional evidence so taken, and it shall file such modified or new findings, which shall be conclusive, and its recommendations if any for the modification or setting aside of its original determination, with the return of such additional evidence. Court procedure.In the proceedings before such court on appeal from a determination of the commission, the commission shall appear by its counsel or other representative and submit oral or written arguments to support the findings and the determination of the commission.
Sec. 109. Continuation of existing tenancies.The right of a tenant to the use or occupancy of any rental property, hotel or apartment, existing at the time this Act takes effect, or thereafter acquired, under any lease or other contract for such use or occupancy or under any extension thereof by operation of law, shall, notwithstanding the expiration of the term fixed by such lease or contract, continue at the option of the tenant subject, however, Eviction restrictions.to any determination or regulation of the commission relevant thereto; and such tenant shall not be evicted or dispossessed so long as he pays the rent and performs the other terms and conditions of the tenancy as fixed by such lease or contract, or in case such lease or contract is modified by any determination or regulation of the commission, then as fixed by such modified lease or contract. Right to end lease on sale of property suspended.All remedies of the owner at law or equity, based on any provision of any such lease or contract to the effect that such lease or contract shall be determined or forfeited if the premises are sold, are hereby suspended so long as this title is in force. Every purchaser shall take conveyance of any rental property, hotel, or apartment subject to the rights of tenants as provided in this title. Possession by owner for personal occupance, etc., allowed.The rights of the tenant under this title shall be subject to the limitation that the bona fide owner of any rental property, apartment, or hotel shall have the right to possession thereof for actual and bona fide occupancy by himself, or his wife, children, or dependents, or for the purpose of tearing down or razing the same in order immediately to construct new rental property, hotel, or apartment if approved by the commission, Notice required.
Vol. 31, p. 1383.upon giving thirty days' notice in writing, served in the manner provided by section 1223 of the Act entitled "An Act to establish a code of laws for the District of Columbia," approved May 3, 1901, as amended, which notice shall contain a full and correct statement of the facts and circumstances upon which the same is based; Restriction.but in no case shall possession be demanded or obtained by such owner in contravention of the terms of any such lease or contract. Settlement of disputes by Commission.If there is a dispute between the owner and the tenant as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the statement set forth in such notice, as to the good faith of such demand, or as to the service of notice, the matters in dispute shall be determined by the commission upon complaint as provided in section 106 of this title.
Sec. 110. Tenancy contunued appeal.Pending the final decision on appeal from a determination of the commission, the commission's determination shall be in full force and effect and the appeal shall not operate as a supersedeas or in any manner stay or postpone the enforcement of the determination appealed from. Modification on decision of court.Immediately upon the entry of a final decision on the appeal the commission shall, if necessary, modify its determination in order to make it conform to such decision. Collection of difference between amount paid and rate decided.The difference, if any, between the amount of rent and charges paid for the period from the date of the filing by the commission of the determination appealed from and the amount that would have been payable for such period under the determination as modified in accordance with the final decision on appeal may be added to or allowed on account of, as the case demands, future rent payments or may be sued for and recovered in an action in the Municipal Court in the District of Columbia.
Sec. 111. Determination of rates, etc., not affected by change of ownership or tenancy.The determination of the commission in a proceeding begun by complaint or upon its own initiative fixing fair and reasonable rents, charges, service, and other terms and conditions of use or occupancy of any rental property, hotel, or apartment shall constitute the commission's determination of the fairness and reasonableness of such rents, charges, service, terms, or conditions for the rental property, hotel, or apartment affected, and shall remain in full force and effect notwithstanding any change in ownership or tenancy thereof, unless and until the commission modifies or sets aside such determination upon complaint either of the owner or of the tenant.
Sec. 112. Penalty for collecting excess rents.If the owner of any rental property, apartment, or hotel collects any rent or charge therefor in excess of the amount fixed in a determination of the commission made and in full force and effect in accordance with the provisions of this title, Recovery of double amount, etc.he shall be liable for and the commission is hereby authorized and directed to commence an action in the Municipal Court in the District of Columbia to recover double the amount of such excess, together with the costs of the proceeding which shall include an attorney's fee of $50, to be taxed as part of the costs. Disposal of.Out of any sums received on account of such recovery the commission shall pay over to the tenant the amount of the excess so paid by him Post, p. 1634.and the balance shall be paid into the Treasury of the United States to the credit of the District of Columbia: Provided, Proviso.
Payments made with knowledge of rate determined.
Post, p. 1634.That if the commission finds that such excess was paid by the tenant voluntarily and with knowledge of the commission's determination, the whole amount of such recovery shall be paid into the Treasury of the United States to the credit of the District of Columbia.
Sec. 113. Services to tenants.
Assessment on owner for willfully withdrawing.If in any proceeding before the commission, begun by complaint or on the commission's own initiative, and involving any lease or other contract for the use or occupancy of any rental property, hotel, or apartment the commission finds that at any time after the passage of this Act but during the tenancy the owner has, directly or indirectly, willfully withdrawn from the tenant any service agreed or required by a determination of the commission to be furnished, or has by act, neglect, or omission contrary to such lease or contract or to the law or any ordinance or regulation made in pursuance of law, or of a determination of the commission, exposed the tenant, directly or indirectly, to any unsafe or insanitary condition or imposed upon him any burden, loss, or unusual inconvenience in connection with his use or occupancy of such rental property, hotel, or apartment, Determination of amount.the commission shall determine the sum which in its judgment will fairly and reasonably compensate or reimburse the tenant therefor. In any such proceeding involving a lease or other contract, the term specified in which had not expired at the time the proceeding was begun, Bonuses to be included.the commission shall likewise determine the amount or value of any bonus or other consideration in excess of the rental named in such lease or contract received at any time directly or indirectly by the owner in connection with such lease or contract. Recovery by tenant.The tenant may recover any amount so determined by the commission in an action in the Municipal Court of the District of Columbia.
Sec. 114. Action by Commission on behalf of tenant.Whenever under this title a tenant is entitled to bring suit to recover any sum due him under any determination of the commission, the commission shall, upon application by the tenant and without expense to him, commence and prosecute in the municipal court of the District of Columbia an action on behalf of the tenant for the recovery of the amount due, and in such case the court shall include in any judgment rendered in favor of the tenant the costs of the action, including a reasonable attorney's fee, to be fixed by the court. Such costs and attorney's fee when recovered shall be paid into the Treasury of the United States to the credit of the District of Columbia.
Sec. 115. Summary procedure, etc., under Commission.The commission shall, by general order, from time to prescribe the procedure to be followed in all proceedings under its jurisdiction. Such procedure shall be as simple and summary as may be practicable, and the commission and parties appearing before it shall not be bound by technical rules of evidence or of pleading.
Sec. 116. Punishment for exacting bonuses, etc.Any person who with intent to avoid the provisions of this title enters into any agreement or arrangement for the payment of any bonus or other consideration in connection with any lease or other contract for the use or occupancy of any rental property, hotel, or apartment, Making fictitious sales, etc.or who participates in any fictitious sale or other device or arrangement the purpose of which is to grant or obtain the use or occupancy of any rental property, hotel, or apartment without subjecting such use or occupancy to the provisions of this title or to the jurisdiction of the commission shall upon conviction be punished by a fine not exceeding $1,000 or by imprisonment for not exceeding one year or by both.
Sec. 117. Forms of leases, etc., to be prescribed.The commission shall prescribe standard forms of leases and other contracts for the use or occupancy of any rental property, hotel, or apartment and shall require their use by the owner thereof. Legal effect of.Every such lease or contract entered into after the commission has prescribed and promulgated a form for the tenancy provided by such lease or contract shall be deemed to accord with such standard form; and any such lease or contract in any proceeding before the commission or in any court of the United States or of the District of Columbia shall be interpreted, applied, and enforced in the same manner as if it were in the form and contained the stipulations of such standard form.
Data required of hotel and apartment owners.The owner of an hotel or apartment shall file with the commission plans and other data in such detail as the commission requires, descriptive of the rooms, accommodations and service in connection with such hotel or apartment, and a schedule of rates and charges therefor. Rates to be fixed by Commission.The commission shall, after consideration of such plans, schedules, data, or other information, determine and fix a schedule of fair and reasonable rates and charges for such hotels or apartments; and the rates and charges stated in such schedule shall thereafter constitute the fair and reasonable rates and charges for such hotel or apartment. Hearings, etc., for.The commission's determination in such case shall be made after such notice and hearing and shall have the same force and effect and be subject to appeal in the same manner as a determination of the commission under section 106 of this title.
Sec. 118. Assigning and subleasing restricted.No tenant shall assign his lease of or sublet any rental property or apartment at a rate in excess of the rate paid by him under his lease without the consent of the commission upon application in a particular case, and in such case Post, p. 1634.the commission shall determine a fair and reasonable rate of rent or charge for such assignment or sublease.
Sec. 119. Former Resolution repealed.
Vol. 40, p. 593.
Ante, p. 104.The public resolution entitled "Joint resolution to prevent profiteering in the District of Columbia," approved May 31, 1918, as amended, is hereby repealed, to take effect sixty days after the date of the confirmation by the Senate of the commissioners first nominated by the President under the provisions of this title; but Enforcement of determination of Commission.a determination by the commission made within such period of sixty days shall be enforced in accordance with the provisions of this title, notwithstanding the provisions of such public resolution. All laws or parts of laws in conflict with any provision of this title Conflicting laws suspended.are hereby suspended so long as this title is in force to the extent that they are in such conflict.
Sec. 120. Appropriation for expenses.The sum of $50,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is hereby appropriated and made immediately available to carry out the provisions of this title, Half from District revenues.one-half thereof to be paid out of money in the Treasury of the United States not otherwise appropriated and the other one-half out of the revenues of the District of Columbia.
Sec. 121. Invalidity of any clause, etc., not to affect others.If any clause, sentence, paragraph, or part of this title shall be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair, or invalidate the remainder thereof but shall be confined in its operations to the clause, sentence, paragraph, or part thereof directly involved in the controversy in which such judgment shall have been rendered.
Sec. 122. Emergency for enactment declared.It is hereby declared that the provisions of this title are made necessary by emergencies growing out of the war with the Imperial German Government, resulting in rental conditions in the District of Columbia dangerous to the public health and burdensome to public officers and employees whose duties require them to reside within the District and other persons whose activities are essential to the maintenance and comfort of such officers and employees, and thereby embarrassing the Federal Government in the transaction of the public business. Temporary character and termination declared.It is also declared that this title shall be considered temporary legislation, and that it shall terminate on the expiration of two years from the date of the passage of this Act, unless sooner repealed.
Approved, October 22, 1919.