WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today announced multiple lawsuits against the owners and managers of six residential apartment buildings in Wards 7 and 8 for neglecting their properties and forcing hundreds of tenants to live in conditions that threaten their health and safety. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) alleges that the owners of the apartment buildings exposed their tenants to various conditions, including severe vermin infestations, water damage and mold, and a lack of fire safety systems. OAG also alleges that owners at some of the properties did not put in place basic security measures to keep residents safe, leading to persistent gun violence. OAG is seeking monetary and injunctive relief for harmed tenants and seeking to ensure the owners make necessary building repairs and security improvements.
“Vulnerable residents have been forced to live in horrific conditions at the hands of neglectful building owners,” said Attorney General Racine. “These particular landlords have shown a callous disregard for the health and safety of their tenants, and that is unacceptable under District law. Most landlords follow the law, but when we see evidence of neglect, we will take legal action to protect our residents.”
Under the District’s Tenant Receivership Act, OAG can ask a judge to appoint a “receiver” to address chronic health and safety issues at a rental property. A receiver is a neutral third party who takes control of the property, makes all decisions about its management and operation, and ensures necessary repairs are made. The TRA applies when neglect by the property’s owner or manager threatens the life, health, and safety of tenants.
The District’s Drug-, Firearm-, or Prostitution-Related Nuisance Abatement Act allows OAG to take action against owners and operators to remedy nuisance activity at a property, such as the sale or harbor of illegal drugs or guns. OAG investigates properties referred to it by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and community groups and brings enforcement actions when warranted to ensure that residents of all income levels, including those who may have limited means to relocate, are safe in their neighborhoods.
Today, AG Racine filed suit against the owners of six multi-unit apartment buildings in Wards 7 and 8 seeking relief under the District’s Tenant Receivership Act, the Drug-, Firearm-, or Prostitution-Related Nuisance Abatement Act, and for violations of the Consumer Protection Procedures Act. The lawsuits seek to compel the owners to maintain their buildings, make repairs required by District law, and take necessary security measures to protect residents from gun violence and drug-related crime.
4559 Benning Road SE, 4569 Benning Road SE, and 4480 C Street SE
OAG sued Mehrdad Valibeigi (aka “Mike Valley”), the owner and manager of three apartment buildings with 35 units total in Ward 7. According to the complaint, Valibeigi collected rent but failed to maintain the buildings or make necessary repairs. Instead, OAG alleges, tenants at all three buildings suffer from terrible conditions throughout, including severe vermin infestation, water and mold infiltration, and a complete lack of fire safety systems, which violates the District’s housing and fire codes.
A copy of the complaint for these properties is available at: http://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2018-10/Benning-Road-Petition-and-Complaint.pdf
Forest Ridge and The Vistas
OAG has filed suit against Castle Management, the owners and managers of Forest Ridge (2400 - 2424 Elvans Road SE) and The Vistas (2540 - 2542 Elvans Road SE; 2545 - 2557 Elvans Road SE; and 2500 - 2514 Pomeroy Road SE) apartment complexes with 399 units total in Ward 8’s Buena Vista neighborhood. OAG’s complaint alleges that the complexes have been plagued by persistent gun violence and drug-related crime since at least early 2017. From January 2017 to July 2018, MPD responded to more than 200 incidents related to drug or firearm activity at or near Forest Ridge, and more than 80 incidents related to drug or firearm activity at or near The Vistas. Despite notices from OAG, Castle Management failed to make necessary security improvements, including increasing security staffing, securing building entrances, and maintaining security cameras and adequate lighting. OAG also alleges that tenants suffered from chronic housing code violations, including defective smoke detectors, rodent infestation, flooding and unclean floors, and leaks and dampness on interior walls.
A copy of the complaint for Forest Ridge and The Vistas is available at: http://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2018-10/Forest-Ridge-Vistas-Complaint.pdf
OAG has filed a separate suit against Castle Management, the owners and managers of 378 units at the Stanton Glenn apartment complex (3040 - 3098 Stanton Road SE) in Ward 8’s Buena Vista neighborhood. OAG alleges that, because of a lack of security measures, the complexes have been plagued by illegal gun activity. Since 2016, MPD officers have responded to more than 150 calls for service for incidents at or near Stanton Glenn that included gunshot sounds, shootings, robberies, burglaries, homicides, and drug complaints. The suit argues that, despite notices from OAG, Castle Management has not taken steps to address the gun problems at the property, such as increasing security staffing, securing building entrances, and maintaining security cameras and adequate lighting.
A copy of the complaint for Stanton Glenn is available at: http://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2018-10/Stanton-Glenn-Complaint.pdf
OAG’s Housing and Community Justice Section uses the law and creative problem solving to improve the quality of life for residents in communities throughout the District, preserve affordable housing, and to hold landlords accountable for providing safe and habitable conditions. Learn more about OAG’s work to preserve affordable housing and learn how to report nuisance activity in your neighborhood.