WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced that the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has filed motions for contempt of court and receivership in its case against the owners of the Terrace Manor housing complex in Ward 8. The motions cite the failure of Sanford Capital and associated companies to abide by a court-ordered abatement plan the parties entered into in January, including neglecting to rectify dangerous violations of District’s housing code cited by inspectors as much as a year ago.
“Even though we negotiated this abatement plan and Sanford Capital promised the court it would abide by it, unfortunately the company has violated it, neglecting its duty to provide safe, habitable housing for the residents of Terrace Manor,” Attorney General Racine said. “Although we attempted in good faith to work with Sanford to ensure proper living conditions for the residents, it has proven that it is unwilling or unable to live up to the minimum duties of any landlord. We will hold Sanford accountable under the law.”
The motions cite several violations of the abatement plan, including:
- Failure to make emergency repairs cited by city inspectors within 24 hours of being notified of them, including a broken pipe in the basement of one building that was not fixed until 21 days after the inspector first reported it to the Terrace Manor owners;
- Denying inspectors access to the property to make a scheduled inspection;
- Failure to repair broken heating systems in two occupied apartments for more than a year;
- And failure to install fireproof drywall and remove all trash and debris from all vacant units in the property, which was explicitly required by the abatement plan.
Copies of the motions are attached.
If the court rules in favor of the District’s motions:
- The property would be given to a court-appointed receiver who would manage the property, collect rent, and use the proceeds to ensure that the housing code violations are abated and that the tenants are able to live in safe and habitable conditions; or
- Sanford would be fined $2,000 for each day that it continues to defy the provisions of the abatement plan.
Attorney General Racine and the owners of Terrace Manor agreed to the abatement plan in January to resolve a lawsuit that OAG filed last year. In the complaint, OAG alleged that the owners have exhibited a pattern of neglect at Terrace Manor and violated the District’s Housing Code. The suit also alleges that Sanford violated the District’s consumer laws by charging renters for a service that Sanford failed to provide properly. That portion of the case -- which seeks to recover restitution for rent payments tenants made to Sanford while the company failed to maintain the properties -- is proceeding separately from the housing-code portion of the case and was not affected by the abatement plan.
This is the second suit the Attorney General has brought against Sanford for a pattern of neglect at an affordable housing complex in Ward 8. Last year, the District sought and received an abatement plan for a Sanford-owned property in Congress Heights. The plan, which is still being overseen by the Court, came as the result of a lawsuit alleging a similar pattern of neglect as in the Terrace Manor case.