The local media, government officials (usually when seeking re-election), housing advocates and the legal services community throw around the amorphous term “slumlord” to describe a landlord that treats tenants badly by failing or refusing to make needed repairs to a rental unit. The point at which a landlord crosses over into ‘slumlord’ territory was anybody’s guess, until now. On November 7 the D.C. Council has proposed an official definition of “slumlord.” (in a sense). The “Slumlord Deterrence Amendment Act of 2017” imposes harsh sanctions on people that own an interest in a rental property which amasses more than five (5) Class 1 violations in a year. Specifically, the slumlord in question may be denied a Basic Business License (including renewal) or Building Permit, of any kind, for a year after all of the Class 1 Violations are cured. Alright, I admit, it’s not a statutory definition in the sense that it says “A Slumlord shall be defined as….” However, it is an implicit definition, and a bright line between the slumlord and the non-slumlord, at least in the eyes of the City Council.
On November 7, 2017, Council members Bonds and Nadeau introduced legislation to limit the rent that a landlord may charge for a unit after termination of a Federal or District subsidy. The Rental Housing Affordability Re-establishment Act of 2017 essentially provides, that upon termination of a tenant subsidy, a landlord may only charge a tenant the rent charged for that unit prior to the subsidy, plus, an increase of “general applicability” for each year that the subsidy based exemption was in place.
The City Council introduced legislation enabling the creation of the Office & Commission on Nightlife(B-22-508). I put the link to the proposed legislation right upfront this time because I realize that what follows might be described as a light rant about how a Commission on Nightlife would not be necessary to advise the Mayor, if the Mayor actually appointed industry representatives to the ABC Board that regulates much of the dusk til’ dawn economy.