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Representative BLANTON. The man who repairs watches in your husband's place of business you spoke of awhile ago voluntarily as a man who was working for you. Mrs. TSCHIPKE. No; he is not working for us.
He is working with us.
Representative BLANTON. Then you made a mistake when you said that?
Mrs. TSCHIPKE. Yes; if I said that.
Representative BLANTON. Did you get any profit from the work he does in your place of business? Do you get a profit from his work?
Mrs. TSCHIPKE. Yes.
Representative BLANTON. If I bring my watch there to be repaired I would turn it over to you and you would have this man repair it and you would get part of what I pay and he gets part?
Mrs. TSCHIPKE. That is it.
Representative BLANTON. You have lived in Washington how long?
Mrs. TSCHIPKE. Eight years.
Representative BLANTON. You have paid this owner since September how much rent?
Mrs. TSCHIPKE. I have not figured out the whole amount.
Representative BLANTON. Have you paid him any amount since last September? Have you actually paid him any rent since September?
Mrs. TSCHIPKE. I have paid him everything, and here is this month's rent which he has sent back.
Representative BLANTON. I mean how much money have you paid him since September that he has kept?
Mrs. TSCHIPKE. The same rent what the Rent Commission fixed, $47.50.
Representative BLANTON. When was the last $47.50 you paid him? Mrs. TSCHIPKE. That was returned ?
Representative BLANTON. No; he did not take that check which you show me.
Mrs. TSCHIPKE. That was November.
Representative BLANTON. When was the last month that you paid him $17.50 that he kept and that he has not returned to you?
Mrs. TSCHIPKE. I paid him up to January 1 through my lawyer.
Mrs. TSCHIPKE. No. Our check; we sent the check in up to January 1.
Representative BLAnton. And he kept that ?
Representative HAMMER. You did offer $67.50 when he would not take the $47.50?
Mrs. TSCHIPKE. Yes. (Witness excused.)
TESTIMONY OF MISS ELEANOR SEMMES
(The witness was duly sworn by the chairman.) The CHAIRMAN. What is your address?
Miss SEMMES. I am living at the Plaza Apartment, Twenty-fourth and Pennsylvania Avenue. I have been a tenant of the Plaza since August 16, 1915. At that time we paid $45 a month. I have a five room and bath apartment, a back apartment, which does not look out on any street, but is bright and sunny. In 1918 George Henderson, who was then the real estate owner, sent a letter around asking that each person increase their apartment rent $5 because of the high cost of living. My sister and I agreed. She is a Government employee, but I signed the lease. We met that first increase. Before that the apartment was taken over by the F. H. Smith Co., and they raised the rent $15 a month and promised to do the necessary repairs. They put on such a thin coat of paint that all the dirt that was on before showed through. We met that inerease.
In 1921 they raised us $5 more.
Miss SEMMES. Yes; that was to $70, and which we met again. To enable us to keep our apartment we have been obliged to rent a room. That reduced our rent.
Senator COPELAND. You had not done that before?
Miss SEMMES. No. We have never delayed in paying our rent. This year in the spring T. F. Schneider & Co. took over the apartment house. They then became the real estate people. From the time they took the apartment house over we had no hot water. We furnished our own hot water all summer, although the boiler was supposed to do it.
Senator COPELAND. Did your lease provide for hot water then?
Miss SEMMES. I do not know, because in an apartment house with 44 apartments you are supposed to get hot water and steam heat. I want to say that until this year we have always had hot waterplenty of it—and steam heat. In the latter part of August we got a circular letter—not sent through the mail-inviting us to pay $20 more, because of what I do not know. We were on pre-war rates and he raised the apartment to $90 a month. I am not a very great correspondent, so my sister wrote him telling him she was a Government employee and that we could not possibly meet that increase and asked him what he would give us; what would be the best terms he could offer. So he invited us to come down and talk to him or to call him up over the phone. As everyone else who had gone down to talk to him had been browbeaten into paying nearly the $90, or the increase demanded, or possibly $2.50 less, we thought it was wiser to stay home. But about the 25th of September we were notified that unless we came down and adjusted the matter we would have to go out, that he was obliged to come to terms.
My sister called him over the phone and made him an offer of $75, provided he would paint the white woodwork, and we would
not ask for any other repairs at that time. He then called me up and told me that as a tenant I was very dictatorial in making terms. I explained we had simply made him an offer, as he had not made any offer, and so we were asking what he could do for us. He then tried to threaten me, but I said to him
Senator COPELAND. What did he say to you?
Miss SEMMES. He said we would have to get out or they would take proceedings, and I stopped him right there. I said, “Mr. Baskin, you have never made us an offer. What offer will make us? He said, "$85 will be the least I will take." I said, "I am in no condition at present to give you a decided answer, because I would have to consult with my sister." The first of the month of October, we sent him a check for $70, and I have never paid the increase. November 1 I got a certified check from the bank and wrote on it, “Rent for apartment 305, the Plaza, for the month of November." I have done that each month until January.
Representative STALKER. Was that on the front of the check or on the back of it?
Miss SEMMES. On the front of it at the bottom. It is on the National Savings & Deposit Co.
Representative STALKER. It should have been on the back.
Miss SEMMES. I did not know that. It was right where the $70 was. Then after having accepted my check for $70, paying me up to January 1, he served an eviction notice on me to get out on the 8th of January
Now, gentlemen, when I first thought we would have to move I went all over the city looking for apartments. Anything that I could see was either $60 or $65, and they were two rooms and bath, and we can not afford to pay $65 out of our salary. We have been able to keep the apartment where we are by keeping our expenses down by renting a room. Friday night he called me up over the phone and asked me what I was going to do. I told him I was doing nothing because the eviction notice that he had served was not legal, as he had accepted my rent. He tried to scare me, said he was sorry I had not found something more reasonable, and I told him I was slightly deaf and asked him please to send me a statement of what he wanted me to do. Instead of that he became abusive and said what he would do would be to send the District marshal to have me put out.
Senator COPELAND. Did you try to find another apartment?
Miss SEMMES. I did. There was one apartment house on Eighteenth Street which had been a Government building. It is just below Pennsylvania Avenue on Eighteenth Street.
There were two rooms, kitchenette and bath, and it was $75.
Senator COPELAND. Was it as good a place as the one you had ?
Miss SEMMES. Everything was spotlessly clean, because the workmen were not there. There was not an outside room, as there is no outside room to our apartment. It gets the dirt from Pennsylvania Avenue, the ash cans from Twenty-second Street, and those from Twenty-third Street.
I only wanted to tell you as plainly as I could what the situation is.
Representative BLANTON. How many are there in your family? Miss SEMMES. Just my sister and myself.
Representative BLANTON. You have a 5 room apartment !
Representative BLANTON. You have four rooms, kitchen and bath?
Miss SEMMES. Yes.
Miss SEMMES. At this time I rent one extra. I am renting two rooms now.
Representative BLANTON. What do you get for them?
The CHAIRMAN. It is 12 o'clock and we must close the hearings. At 8 o'clock to-night we will have a session from 8 until 11 in the caucus room in the Senate Office Building on the third floor, where we will have plenty of room for everybody.
The joint committee will stand adjourned until 8 o'clock this evening
(Thereupon, at 12 o'clock meridian, the joint subcommittee took a recess until 8 o'clock p. m.)
TUESDAY, JANUARY 13, 1925. The joint subcommittee met at the expiration of the recess at 8 o'clock p. m. in the caucus room, Senate Office Building.
Present: Senators Ball (chairman), Jones of Washington, and Copeland.
Present also: Representatives Lampert, Hammer, Stalker, and Blanton.
The CHAIRMAN. We will proceed with the hearing. Who is the first witness tonight?
TESTIMONY OF MRS. MARGARET A. HAMPTON
(The witness was duly sworn by the chairman.)
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed with such statement as you desire to make.
Mrs. HAMPTON. Gentlemen, I welcome this opportunity to petition you that in the legislation of a rent bill or the passage of some bill that may follow, the enactment of some law or the enforcement of some law to control owners, agents, or those who have property to rent, they shall be required to furnish us the necessary heat in such places as heat has been stipulated in a previous lease or lease that has continued by suffrance.
I am a tenant at 1820 K Street, NW., known as the Pentilly Apartment. The CHAIRMAN. Who is the owner of that apartment house? Mrs. HAMPTON. C. C. Maver, 1820 G Street NW. The CHAIRMAN. Who is the manager or agent?
Mrs. HAMPTON. Himself. This has continued over quite a period,
Mrs. HAMPTON. When I rented the apartment of the F. H. Smith Co., the following winter we had perfect heat and perfect hot water and plenty of it, and, so far as I know, conditions were good. It was sold I do not know to whom-and went into the hands of Richardson & Higbie. Then followed a long period of lack of heat whatsoever. Mr. Higbie, to equalize rents, took the building into the Rent Commission, not through any petition of ours whatsoever, but to equalize rents. This condition was brought out by Mr. Whaley when he asked me if I had suffered any permanent injury from the various absences of heat and any inconvenience. At that time I could truthfully say, “No; just inconvenience.” I can not say that now, because last winter I suffered, absolutely suffered, and caught a cold from which I have not recovered. There was absolutely no heat in my apartment until January 2. The terribly cold weather during the latter part of November, I appealed to my landlord and I appealed to his wife. I also appealed to the health department. They told me they had no jurisdiction other than to see that a heating plant was in the building. Later, when the weather became still more severe, I went to Mr. Oyster's office and interviewed his secretary. He told me that they had no jurisdiction whatsoever, but they had incorporated in the bill a request that the health department be clothed with authority to see that heat was given.
Senator Jones of Washington. Did you ever appeal to the Rent Commission?
Mrs. HAMPTON. No. I just stated that no Rent Commission was appealed to because Mr. Higbie took our building into the Rent Commission of his own volition to equalize rents. No one in our building appealed to the Rent Commission in any shape or form. That was in 1923.
Senator Jones of Washington. Do you mean by that that your rental price was satisfactory?
Mrs. HAMPTON. I have no complaint to make of my rent. I have only one plea, to be comfortably warm. I feel that when you ask for but one room, one small place to stay, that you should be given sufficient heat to be fairly comfortable, even. I have almost frozen.
Senator JONES of Washington. How are conditions now?
Mrs. HAMPTON. I have just said that on the second of January more heat was given us, and we have had some hot water, quite à good deal of it.
There is an economic reason back of all this. Why should we have to lose our time from the office, why should the Government have to pay us for days at a time when we can not speak because of colds? I have been so ill this last six weeks that I could scarcely stand. Doctors' bills! It is a luxury to be sick now. Then why should people have to suffer this? I am willing to pay. I have never questioned that. I only ask for a place to stay.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you have a lease?