DC Small Property Owners Unite to Fight "Anti-Landlord" Laws


Dean Hunter

A new trade association has been formed to advance the interest of small and independent multifamily owners in the Greater Washington, D.C., region. (Multifamilyowners.org)

The Small Multifamily Owners Association (SMOA) will educate, organize, and service owners of small apartment buildings (four to 50 units) in the District of Columbia and the surrounding suburbs. “The interests and needs of small and independent multifamily owners are very different than the large corporate owners,” said Dean Hunter, the group founder and CEO.

Hunter said the organization’s agenda includes education, leveraging purchasing power, and legislative advocacy on behalf of owners. “We will examine best practices in property management, addressing issues such as energy conservation techniques and utilizing technology to lower operating costs,” he said.

SMOA will also concentrate on the collective political power of small investors to bring about changes in the legal and regulatory framework. “The District of Columbia is one of the most anti-landlord jurisdictions in the country, said Hunter. “Rent control, tenants' right to first refusal requirements and increased taxes harm small owners in a disproportionate manner," he said. "There has been plenty of COVID relief for tenants. Where is the help for small landlords?

“The combined effect of anti-landlord laws and excessive regulation has made it more difficult for small multifamily owners to see the expected return on their family investment and is harming the ability of minorities to reap the benefits of commercial real estate," Hunter said. “Often, this is a family’s only investment property. They should not be treated the same as Greystar, a company that owns thousands of units.”

Hunter says the organization is dedicated to serving the 3,000 individual small apartment building owners in the District (4-50 units) but will also service small commercial multifamily owners in Arlington, Virginia, and Prince Georges County and Montgomery County in Maryland. “We have to take a regional approach to best practices for small rental owners. Why is the tenant’s right to the first refusal in the sale of a multifamily property so complicated in Washington, D.C., compared to Maryland and Virginia?"

Hunter is the manager of The Urban Commercial Realty Group, a boutique firm specializing in multifamily and net lease investment sales in the Washington, D.C., region. (Urbancre.org) Hunter is a graduate of American University and Howard University School of Law.

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