22 January, 2009

Most Deplorable Residential Buildings

Progress in Repairing the District’s Most Deplorable Residential Buildings

Government of the District of Columbia
Executive Office of the Mayor

Contact: Feras Sleiman, (202) 251 8829
Michael Rupert, (202) 437 1024

Washington, DC—Today Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, joined by Attorney General Peter J. Nickles and Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) Director Linda K. Argo announced that many of the District’s most vulnerable residents are now dramatically safer, just eight months after the city filed a sweeping lawsuit to force repairs in some dangerous residential buildings.

The owners of all 13 buildings named in the lawsuit have addressed the majority of the needed repairs. Of the 2,800 housing code violations originally cited in 330 units in the buildings, more than 82 percent have been abated and six of the properties were completely repaired and have therefore been removed from the lawsuit.

“Some of the District’s most dangerous residential buildings that were allowed to rot while residents suffered are finally being made whole,” Fenty said. “We have made tremendous progress and Attorney General Nickles and Director Argo deserve credit for being innovative and bold in their approach to this important effort.” While the lawsuit has had a significant impact, more work will need to be done to identify and prevent new buildings from falling into disrepair.

“This lawsuit has been a huge success in forcing landlords to make the repairs themselves but we cannot relent in our pursuit of these landlords,” Nickles said. “We have put landlords on notice that they cannot allow these conditions and we will comb all eight wards to make sure these egregious violations cease to exist.”

More than 95 percent of the abated violations were paid for by the landlords.

According to DCRA Director Argo, “We are putting in place a new proactive inspections program that will ensure all multi-family residential apartment buildings in the District are inspected on a regular schedule.”

The new program also includes automatic referrals for inspections to the DC Department of Health (DOH) and the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) for mold, lead, air quality, rodents and other health and environmental issues.

Until now the DCRA inspections unit relied solely on the eyes and ears of the tenants to report problems. Today, the agency along with DOH and the DDOE are committed to conducting, regular systematic inspections regardless of whether a complaint is issued.

All of the estimated 4,800 apartment buildings in the District will automatically be placed on a four-year inspection cycle. If city inspectors find substantial code violations in common areas, exterior premises, or within apartment units, the building will be moved into a 2-year inspection cycle.

Failure to pass an inspection will result in notices of violation, fines, and possibly criminal prosecution. DCRA will roll out the proactive inspections program in the first quarter of 2009.

Some of the properties removed from the lawsuit include:

• 2913 Knox Place, SE, owned by Adolphe Edwards
30 units; a total of 233 violations cited.

• 518 9th Street, NE, owned by Capitol East Partners LLC
64 units; a total of 412 violations cited and abated.

• 1114 F Street, NE owned by Capitol East Partners II, LLC
48 units; a total of 163 violations cited and abated.

• 7444 Georgia Avenue, NW owned by 7444 Georgia Avenue, NW LLC
21 units; a total of 162 violations cited

• 2401 Ontario Road, NW owned by Ontario Partners LLC
22 units; a total of 129 violations cited

• 2359 Ontario Road, NW owned by Ontario Partners LLC
28 units; a total of 75 violations cited

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