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Earlier this spring, I dove into the strife between tenants in the rent-controlled wing of the Kennedy-Warren, the majestic old apartment building on Connecticut Avenue near the National Zoo. The landlord, B.F. Saul, had tried for years to raise rents as it conducted a massive renovation, and tenants fought back fiercely enough to keep most of the building from going market-rate, complaining in the meantime of terrible living conditions while construction was underway.
The South Wing was supposed to be different. Constructed in 2004 to mirror the historic wing, except with larger units and more modern amenities, its occupants pay the highest rents in the city. Tours of the building come with Kennedy-Warren-embossed gold gift bags filled with crackers, gouda, salami, chocolate, tea, and a leather wine case.
But according to a recently-filed lawsuit, you might not get all you pay for.
Tenants James and Anne Hovis moved into the new wing of the Kennedy-Warren in 2008, expecting the best: They were paying $7,900 per month for themselves and their daughter (that’s pretty much as expensive as the building gets). Next year, the rent went up to $8,169, and the plaintiffs say they’ve paid over $300,000 in rent total.
Since then, however, the Hovises complain of miserable living conditions, with water leaking through their ceiling and walls, brown water coming out of the bathtub faucet, the sound of hammering and drilling as apartments on either side were repaired. Earlier this year, they say, plumbing problems caused their washing machine to overflow and flood the apartment. Mold and water damage, they say, have caused them headaches, nausea, allergic reactions and skin irritation, memory loss, sinus problems, congestion, fatigue, chest pain, and emotional distress.
As these problems came to light, the Hovises stopped paying rent, and B.F. Saul moved to evict them (although court records show that the landlord had started suing the Hovises for non-payment as early as 2008). Now, the Hovises are suing on counts of negligence, breach of contract, conversion of property, fraud and misrepresentation, and demanding $225,000 in actual damages, plus three times that in punitive damages.
I can’t verify the complaints at this point, nor vouch for the credibility of the Hovises, who’ve run into some legal trouble of their own in recent years. But if the allegations are true, that’s not the kind of thing you’d want to show up in a Yelp review.
Read the complaint below:
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