No Building Permits for “Slumlords”
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.