DCRA heading to American University at 10 am. See us at main quad. #TSBI

DCRA Heading to American University

DCRA’s outreach team is heading to American University to talk to students living off-campus about safety issues and those living off-campus about what to look for when they decide to leave the dorms. We are now in our 3rd year of this program and we appreciate all of the questions, comments, emails and phone calls. Our goal is to ensure all off-campus student housing is safe. It’s simple. So please, if you suspect your rental has issues, talk to your landlord and if they’re not responsive, call us. We have a ton of information above that can help you. Thanks again.

– Mike, DCRA

And follow us on Twitter if that’s your thing.

Win iPod Touch, Nano for Tweeting Fire Safety Tips to Students #tellastudent

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The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is supporting Campusfirewatch in promoting National Campus Fire Safety Month 2009 which kickoffs on September 1 and they have a great new campaign.

From August 27 to September 3, Campus Firewatch wants to provide its Twitter community with an easy way to raise awareness about campus fire safety – and possibly win some great prizes including an iPod Touch, iPod Nano and iTunes Gift Certificates.

Beginning at 8 p.m. on Thursday, August 27, 2009 they are asking our community and our community’s communities to start using Twitter to send messages to students with fire safety tips using the hashtag “#tellastudent” at the end of your message.

They’ll be putting out examples several times a day for people @campusfirewatch, so you can simply follow us, copy and send the messages on to students you know.

Here are some examples:

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Whoever sends the most tweets to students using #tellastudent as of midnight on Thursday, September 3, 2009, will win the iPod Touch. The second highest will get the Nano. It’s that easy.

They are also going to be giving away numerous iTunes gift certificates daily to people whose tweets are the most creative. Please be sure to follow @campusfirewatch to find out if you’ve won.

How do they know you’re tweeting students? They don’t. They’ll trust you. But if non-students get this information, we’ll all be a little safer anyway. As students return to campus, we hope this is a fun way to get important reminders to students.

If you don’t know how to use Twitter, check out this video and join in.

Also join National Campus Fire Safety Month Group on Facebook

Visit the National Campus Fire Safety Month Website

Take a look at their Social Media Newsroom

For more information and the rules – there aren’t too many – visit their post here.

Crunch Time – DCRA Can Help if You’re Renting Last Minute

Chances are that if you don’t have an off-campus apartment in DC for this fall, you are scrambling, freaking out and willing to take just about anything near campus. You’re scouring Craigslist and other apartment listing services. These sites are great, but what they don’t do is filter. Anyone and everyone can post whatever they want without much recourse. You get what you get. This is crunch time and you might settle for something that is ugly. That’s fine. You might settle for something small. Chances are that’s fine too. But what you don’t want is something that’s unsafe.

Part of the reason the District of Columbia requires landlords to get licensed isn’t because we get just get a check – in fact, the licensing is not a money-raising venture for DCRA. The key reason is that for the license to be approved, the landlord needs to have an inspection of the property. Are there two exits in case there’s a fire? Is there smoke alarms? Does the plumbing leak? Here is a list of just the simple items we look for. You can print and take that list with you when you check out the place.

We know you’re in a rush to get into something. But please, please at least ask your landlord if he is licensed by DCRA. Or you can look up all licensed rental properties through our main Website here. There is a guide that shows you what type of rental license you need to be looking for. If your potential apartment isn’t listing, ask the landlord why. Ask him the last time it was inspected. Show him the checklist. This sounds annoying, we know. But you are going to sleep in someone’s house you don’t know and if he can’t answer simple questions, then how he will respond later. Just something to think about. Most of the landlords in DC are great and most have licenses from DCRA. Now is the time that those who just want to make a quick buck prey upon the thousands students who arrive every fall.

So look up the apartment and ask some questions. This will at least offer a little filtering of the places you’ll see online. If you have any questions, email us, tweet us or chat with us on Facebook. We’re here 24 hours a day to answer any questions or help give you some guidance on your search. Good luck. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs can help.

And to those landlords who are not licensed. It’s not too late, you won’t be penalized and it is a simple and quick process. Here is a fact sheet. And you too can email ustweet us or chat with us on Facebook. We want students and all residents to be safe. We are inspecting all rental units in the District over the next few years so you might as well do the right thing and get licensed and inspected now and keep the students you’re renting safe. Keep your property safe.

DCRA Tweeting Live from AU Off-Campus Housing Fair

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DCRA’s thisshouldbeillegal.com team will be tweeting live from the American University Off-Campus Housing Fair tomorrow from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Mary Graydon Center in University Club Room 2 & 3.

Follow us at @dcra or Come by and see us. This is thisshouldbeillegal.com’s first of many big events in 2009. We’ll be sending out good tips and links to important information.

The event will provide AU students the opportunity to get information on making the transition to off-campus housing. We will be there to help students how to choose safe and licensed housing and how to keep their new homes safe. AU has a good site to help students right here as well.

We will be encouraging students to first ask their prospective landlord if they are licensed.  Students can also look up addresses in the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs licensed rental database.

Students can also start their own campaign to help their fellow students. We’ll provide the training materials and fliers, you supply the energy. You can also send in videos of your new place to our Facebook FanPage or Group and we’ll look up the building’s history for you.

Here is a map to the event. See you there.