“Trash Talk” (Show & Tell, 7/27) shows the depths to which a few Adams Morgan alcohol licensees will sink to accomplish their goals. Larger goal: get a tavern license. Smaller goal: discredit me so that I can’t argue the Kalorama Citizens Association position at the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

Did anyone else note that the photo credit on page 32 was to one of these licensee’s employees who was also mentioned in the story? And that he just “happened” to be present at the precise moment that the city inspector put the stop-work order on my front door? My! What a “coincidence”!

Denis James
Adams Morgan

Apt. Punishment

“7 Easy Ways to Screw Your Landlord” (7/6) turns the reality of renting in the District on its head. As legal service providers who regularly represent tenants in Landlord and Tenant Court, we do not condone use of the law to harass landlords or to avoid valid legal obligations. We do, however, support and encourage tenants who fight for their legal right to safe and sanitary housing, and we strenuously object to the article’s suggestion that tenants are acting improperly by doing so.

Despite robust legal protections, many tenants in the District are forced to live in substandard conditions. Landlords, particularly those who rent to low-income tenants, often permit serious violations of the housing code to exist and make little effort at repairs. For every example cited in the article, we have seen dozens of tenants forced to live without heat or hot water, exposed to mold caused by a leaky roof, subjected to rats, mice, and roaches, and threatened by faulty electrical wiring and other deplorable conditions.

The reasons landlords allow such conditions to occur and persist are varied. Some landlords choose not to expend the funds to make repairs, and others simply believe they are not obligated to do so. A more sinister trend, however, is owners of affordable rental units who make a conscious choice not to make repairs in hopes of driving tenants out of their buildings. Recent trends of rising property values and spreading gentrification encourage landlords who wish to convert their buildings to condominiums or high-rent apartments to try to push out their tenants by making their buildings increasingly decrepit.

To mock the plight of tenants in the District who are subjected to substandard housing and to suggest they wish to “screw their landlords” by fighting for safe and sanitary housing is irresponsible, short-sighted, and flatly wrong.

Anne M. Smetak, Antonia K. Fasanelli, Amber W. Harding
Staff Attorneys, Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless

Lucy Newton
Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Correction

Due to an error by Arts Editor Mark Athitakis, actor Kevin James was misidentified in a caption for the review of I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry in last week’s Arts section.