From the story:
Another sticking point is getting to know the landlord to make sure he or she is legally allowed to rent space. To this end, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has launched the Collegiate Off-Campus Housing Initiative, designed to protect students from unlicensed landlords.
As part of its campaign, the department provides a registry of all licensed landlords in the District, accessible at thisshouldbeillegal.com. In addition, the Web site allows tenants to request a housing inspection and free smoke detectors through the District’s Smoke Alarm Utilization and Verification Program.
– Mike Rupert