Attorney General continues cracking down on unsafe tenant conditions
In three new lawsuits announced on Oct. 17, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine accused building owners in wards 7 and 8 of “neglecting their properties and forcing tenants to live in conditions that threaten their health and safety,” according to a press release from the Office of the Attorney General.
The six buildings suffer from defective plumbing, subsequent mold and water damage, broken smoke detectors and fire suppression systems, and “severe” roach, rodent and bed bug infestations, according to the complaint filed by Racine against The Bennington Corporation and Mehrdad Valibeigi — the owner and operator, respectively, of two apartment buildings located on Bennington Road.
The lawsuits affect more than 800 units among the six apartment buildings.
Racine accused landlords of allowing gun and drug violence to worsen on their properties by not enforcing basic security measures under the Nuisance Abatement Act. This act allows the attorney general to sue properties used to illegally store guns and drugs, like the six in this series of lawsuits.
Stanton Glenn, one of the six buildings involved in the lawsuit, “has been the site of ongoing firearm-related activity and gun violence over the past year, including the execution of search warrants and seizures of firearms and ammunition,” according to the complaint filed against the building. Since January 2016, Metropolitan Police Department has responded to more than 150 calls of gunshots and gun violence at Stanton Glenn.
As allowed by the Tenant Receivership Act, because “chronic health and safety issues” must be addressed in each building, Racine wants the current owners’ rights to the building to be terminated immediately.
Racine would then appoint a “receiver” — a neutral third party — to take control of the building. The receiver would be responsible for addressing any and all health issues in the building, making it safe for tenants once again.
“The receiver must be a person or company with experience in managing rental properties,” the Office of the Attorney General said in a press release, “as well as the knowledge and skills to assess what repairs are needed at a building and hire and supervise professionals to make the repairs.”
These lawsuits resemble those served by Racine earlier this year in other parts of the District. In August, he reached settlements with two buildings and two businesses in the Deanwood area that required each location to install better security equipment.
The buildings involved in these lawsuits are listed below, according to a press release from the Office of the Attorney General:
- 4559 Bennington Rd. SE
- 4569 Bennington Rd. SE
- 4480 C St. SE
- Forest Ridge (2400 – 2424 Elvans Rd. SE)
- The Vistas (2540 – 2542 Elvans Rd. SE; 2545 – 2557 Elvans Rd. SE; and 2500 – 2514 Pomeroy Rd. SE)
- Stanton Glenn (3040 – 3098 Stanton Rd. SE)