A Line Has Been Drawn in the Sand…SlumLords Beware!

Our very own Mayor Muriel Bowser has drawn a line in the sand for all District landlords not to cross.  Mayor Bowser has always been passionate about producing, protecting and preserving affordable housing for the lowest income and most vulnerable residents in the city.

A few months ago she strongly noted to Maryland based Sanford Capital, who own and operate 66 residential buildings with more than 1,000 housing code violations, to quickly fix the problems or prepare to face stiff penalties,  fines and potentially  a costly and lengthy legal battle with the courts.

Although Sanford, has received the negative publicity in the newspapers and other media outlets, the Mayor used that opportunity to forewarn all landlords with property in Washington, D.C to maintain a certain basic standard of living in your properties or else!

Several reports cited that families, including the elderly and small children, residing in the apartments managed by Sanford, faced such deplorable conditions such as broken air conditioners during the summer and non-working heaters in the winters.  Furthermore, there were extensive confirmations of mold and mildew, reports of broken toilets and refrigerators and plenty of sightings of vermin despite tons of repeated complaints from the residents.

More than $500,000 in fines could be levied against Sanford for the inequities suffered by the residents, according to Bowser.  The Mayor also indicated that she would be giving more power and leeway to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), the agency that inspects, regulates and enforces all property codes within the District.

Now DCRA will be given the capacity to go after all property owners who do not maintain their properties to a basic living standard.   Additionally, DCRA will now have the ability to address vacant nuisance properties and really go after each potential slumlord..

DCRA’s Director Melinda Bolling plans to use the legal process to ensure that property owners, like Sanford, are adhering to the law.  Director Bolling also states that the department will be available to assist landlords with maintaining codes and not coming into violations.

Here are four tips for  property management  and District landlords:

  1. Be educated on and compliant with DC codes in relation to property management
  2. Seek assistance from DCRA and its subject experts
  3. Employ only competent, licensed and bonded contractors to do jobs
  4. Be proactive

The consequences of a landlord not taking heed to these tips can be monumental. The more you know and the more you care about your tenants, the better the relationships can be and, ultimately, the more your property will rise in value and the more compensation you can receive.

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