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Karl A. Racine
Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia

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Attorney General Racine Obtains Court-Appointed Receiver to Manage Blighted Columbia Heights Property

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Court Rejects Owners’ Proposal to Raise Rent at the Apartment Complex

Marrisa Geller, Public Affairs Specialist: (202) 724-5448; [email protected]
Andrew Phifer, Public Affairs Specialist: (202) 741-7652; [email protected]

WASHINGTON, D. C. – Residents of a Columbia Heights apartment complex who have been forced to live in unsafe and unsanitary conditions for years will soon find relief now that Attorney General Karl A. Racine has obtained a court order appointing a receiver to manage the complex, located at 2724 11th Street NW. The receiver will take responsibility for the property, making all decisions regarding its management and operation, including ensuring all necessary repairs are made at the property. This court order comes after Attorney General Racine sued the owners for numerous housing code violations and the owners failed to submit a sufficient plan to fix the violations.

“Tenants are entitled to safe and habitable housing, and I will continue to bring suit against landlords who have displayed a pattern and practice of denying tenants these basic rights,” said Attorney General Racine.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Racine filed a lawsuit against Jefferson-11th Street, LLC; SCF Management, LLC; Stanley Ford, Sr.; and Ellis J. Parker alleging that the 26-unit property they own suffers from violations of the District’s housing code and Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA). The suit also alleged a pattern of neglect over long periods of time at the property, resulting in bedbug and rat infestations, inadequate heating and safety facilities, and extreme mold contamination due to unidentified leaks. On Friday, October 27, the court agreed that the conditions at the property were extremely poor and had been ongoing for well beyond the 30-day threshold required by the District’s Tenant Receivership law.

The Tenant Receivership statute allows building owners to propose their own rehabilitation plan, which the court can approve instead of appointing a receiver. The owners in this case proposed a plan to apply for a 36 percent rent increase for the rent-controlled units, and to begin major repairs only after obtaining such a rent increase. The court rejected the owners’ proposal as insufficient, because it would continue the same pattern and practice of neglect in the short term and would not address major repair needs promptly. The judge ruled instead that a receiver should be appointed. The court will hold a separate hearing to determine who the receiver will be and the funding mechanism for the receiver’s work.

Once selected, the receiver will:

  • Immediately begin collecting rents from tenants;
  • Within 30 days of appointment, conduct an assessment of all the repair needs at the property and submit a rehabilitation plan to the court for approval; and
  • Once the court has approved the rehabilitation plan, hire contractors and begin repairs needed to make the property safe and habitable.

Still pending before the court are the District’s consumer claims for rent repayments to affected tenants, and the mold-related claims brought by Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer on behalf of the individual tenants. “I commend Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer for working in the best interest of residents and their help in our companion case addressing mold issues,” said Attorney General Racine.

Preserving Affordable Housing and Helping Tenants
This ruling 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.