Credit: Darrow Montgomery

Last August, City Paper wrote about the twin apartment buildings on 49th Street NE in Deanwood where mice multiply unfettered, the landlord reportedly curses out his tenants, and ceilings routinely cave in. 

And the tenants, who remain close not in spite, but because, of their living conditions—one woman told City Paper that the residents had “bonded over the deadbeat landlord”—finally got a win in court last week. On January 10, a D.C. Superior Court judge ordered a third-party receiver, Karen Bower, to assume temporary responsibility for conducting repairs on the property and abating housing code violations. Thomas K. Stephenson, the owner and manager of 711 and 719 49th Street NE, must also pay $15,000 for the repairs.

The office of Attorney General Karl Racine filed a lawsuit against Stephenson last June, arguing at the time that the code violations “threaten the health, safety, and security of the tenants.” 

Stephenson has previously encountered financial difficulties. As City Paper reported last year, public property records show that the banks that own the debt on 711 49th Street NE and another, separate property have threatened foreclosure multiple times since 2004. Stephenson “denies all the allegations of facts in the complaint,” according to the handwritten answer to Racine’s complaint, dated July 18, 2018, he submitted to the court.

Bower will serve as the receiver for a period of two weeks. A follow-up hearing is scheduled for Jan. 25 to determine “whether the Court should order a longer-term receivership for the property,” a press release from Racine’s office says.