At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds today introduced a bill that targets “slumlords” who purposely neglect their buildings and put their tenants’ health and safety at risk.
The bill’s introduction comes one week after a Washington City Paper cover story on deteriorating conditions in D.C.’s low-rent units—from constant bug infestations to leaks that last years to trespassers doing drugs outside tenants’ doors.
Bonds’ bill, The Rental Housing Accommodation Nuisance Abatement Amendment Act of 2016, authorizes the U.S. Attorney for D.C., the District’s Attorney General, or “any community-based organization” to file an action in D.C. Superior Court on behalf of tenants in buildings where a landlord has “demonstrate[d] a pattern of neglect of the property for a period of 30 consecutive days.”
As UrbanTurf points out, when renters are currently facing substandard living conditions, they must go through the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and its inspection process. But, as Allison Kowalski and Quinn Myers reported for City Paper:
Even with repeated visits by DCRA inspectors to units that have faced ongoing problems, it’s often difficult to hold landlords accountable, as they do patch jobs and make temporary fixes to avoid fines and violations.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery