Road to Hell: DCs renter protection laws

I’ve been meaning to post something about the problem with nuisance renters, the neighbors who have to put up with them, and the landlords who can’t get rid of them. And then I spot this on the 5D listserv:

I live in a privately-owned 2-story (total of 4 units) apartment building in Ward 5. It is a relatively quiet block. However, one of the residents has blatantly moved in other people, and refuses to pay rent (not since July). That is not my battle to fight (NOTE: The property owner, a federal government retiree/widow, recently went to court to get an eviction order); however, there is constant ‘traffic’ in and out the building at night…for quite a while now. Often, the exterior (front and rear) security doors are left unlocked – an obvious security issue/violation. We suspect that the rear exterior door lock has been ‘jimmied’ to allow ‘anytime’ access. Do I suspect illegal (drugs?) activity? I don’t know what to suspect anymore. I know that it’s not NORMAL to see someone (female) walk out of the building at 1:30am to an awaiting car, stand at the driver’s side window and talk for 2-3 minutes, get into the car, and 20 minutes later, she is being dropped off. YES..I stayed up that late to observe that happen. In particular, there are at least two cars (a dark green Cadillac-MD tags driven by a black man with thick long braids) that come and go as much as the building residents. This would not be a problem except that at one point, he obviously had his own set of building keys. I understand that he has a lengthy criminal record – as well as some as the others that come in as late as 11:30pm and may not leave until 5 or 6am. The building owner has expressed her frustration at not being able to legally remove this resident (who, incidentally, moved a girlfriend in, but denies this fact when confronted about it, and has refused to have her name added to his lease). She/property owner has been told that the Marshall service will not be able to serve the eviction order sooner than 60-90 days. Keep in mind that she has not seen any rent from this tenant since June. I’ve often heard how difficult it is for landlords to evict tenants; therefore, tenants can ‘live for free’ for months at a time….until they are forced to move on and inflict the same thing on another unsuspecting landlord.

[SNIP]Our sense of safe and security is gone. We don’t know WHO and WHAT is living around us anymore…and for those of us not yet retired, heaven only knows what goes on in the building while we are at work.

At the last BACA meeting the DC Attorney General (I think that was her title) for 5D mentioned that dealing with nuisance renters who endanger the safety of neighbors is ‘challenging’.
I am not attacking the good intentions and the desire to save DC renters from unscrupulous landlords. However, the neighbors who get terrorized by bad renters have little recourse it seems. I know of a situation where crackhead renter blasts music so loud that it shakes the neighbor’s wall among other things. The neighbor has been told that landlord is sort of making the attempt (maybe, this was mentioned a good while ago), but in the meantime there is calling 311 or 911, police maybe showing up to quiet things down, and repeat.

4 thoughts on “Road to Hell: DCs renter protection laws”

  1. Its a shame that this is going on in your building. As a realtor (a good one) I wish I had recommendations I could make that would help your problem [neighbor]. Unforunately for a situation like yours, DC’s tenant-friendliness will only make the eviction process more difficult and therefore it takes longer than the surrounding areas. Keep us updated on the eviction.

  2. The building problem is someone from the 5D listserv, not I. The neighbor-crackhead problem is a townhouse vs townhouse situation. Thankfully, I get on well with my next door neighbors… the jerk on the other side of the alley and cell-phone guy… that’s another story.

  3. What was the response on the 5D listserv? It sounds like the writer should give up and move elsewhere, though in the meantime, that sounds like plenty of data to lodge a complaint somewhere.

    I would think taking photos would be a place to start, if the writer is willing to risk this.

  4. if the tenant is continuing to pay rent to the landlord tenant court then there’s very little that can be done. the tenant must stop paying to be and be sued for possession of real estate and face judgement to cause an evicted. please correct me if i got it mixed up.

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