Attorney General Racine Announces Court-Appointed Receiver to Manage Congress Heights Property

Owners Failed to Comply with Plan to Fix Housing Code Violations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine has obtained a court order appointing a receiver to manage a Congress Heights apartment complex that has been plagued by mismanagement, providing relief to tenants who have lived with unsafe and unsanitary conditions for years. The receivership order comes after the owners of the property failed to comply with a court-approved abatement plan to fix multiple housing code violations at the property.

As part of the abatement plan, which the Office of the Attorney General negotiated last year, the property owners made quarterly status reports to the court to ensure compliance. After hearing testimony from residents about the ongoing mismanagement of the property, Judge John M. Mott appointed David Gilmore to manage the property and ensure that housing code violations are fixed. Mr. Gilmore has extensive experience leading city housing agencies and has served as a court-appointed receiver charged with improving the work of housing agencies in the District and New Orleans.

“Our office worked in good faith with Sanford, its owners and related companies to negotiate an abatement plan that would improve the living conditions for Congress Heights residents, but Sanford failed to live up to its part of the bargain,” said Attorney General Racine. “This receivership plan will finally bring relief to the long-suffering residents of this complex. I will continue to use all legal options to ensure that affordable housing in the District is safe and habitable, and to hold unscrupulous landlords accountable.”

The abatement plan and now receivership order are the result of a lawsuit OAG brought last year against Sanford and related businesses, the owners of four properties adjacent to the Congress Heights Metro station at Alabama Avenue and 13th Street SE. The suit alleged a pattern of neglect over long periods of time at the property, resulting in persistent problems with broken and missing smoke detectors, inoperable fire extinguishers, bedbugs, rodent infestations, unstable ceilings, lack of heat and hot water, and other issues.

Under the receivership plan:

  • Mr. Gilmore has 30 days to conduct an initial assessment of the property, including a plan for fully addressing code violations and health and safety issues;
  • He will have a budget of $60,000 ($45,000 plus an additional $15,000, if necessary), provided by the owners, to conduct his initial assessment and any emergency repairs that need to be done during that 30-day period;
  • He will collect rents at the property and use the proceeds to fund routine maintenance and other work;
  • Once the court approves the initial assessment and plan, Mr. Gilmore will have authority do whatever is necessary to remediate any code violations or life, health, and safety issues at the property;
  • And the court will have authority to compel any additional funds from the owners it deems necessary for the receiver to bring the property up to code and ensure safe, habitable conditions at the complex.

A copy of the receivership order is attached.

Preserving Affordable Housing and Helping Tenants
This settlement is one of several recent victories for tenants in the District resulting from OAG lawsuits and other actions to preserve affordable housing. As part of his commitment to ensuring District residents have access to quality affordable housing, Attorney General Racine will continue to bring actions to ensure safe and habitable housing conditions and to ensure that consumers get what they pay for with their rent checks.

Tenants with landlord-tenant concerns can contact the Office of the Tenant Advocate at (202) 719-6560; if you believe your issue may be building-wide, please ask them to share your information with the Office of the Attorney General.