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Introducing New Legislation to Protect Tenants from Unsafe and Undignified Housing

Today Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George and five other Councilmembers introduced legislation to protect tenants from landlords who neglect housing conditions and building safety. The Do Right by DC Tenants Amendment Act of 2023 would prevent any individual or business from obtaining a new basic business license or building permit if anyone in the ownership structure has received more than five Class 1 or Class 2 housing code violations in a 12-month period.

“For too long, a small group of landlords has been able to profit by buying up rental properties in DC and then charging high rents while neglecting building maintenance and security. We need to protect tenants in DC by preventing neglectful landlords from expanding their foothold in our communities.”

Councilmember Janeese Lewis George

Class 1 and Class 2 infractions are the most severe housing code violations, and they are enforced by the Department of Buildings through inspections. Class 1 infractions include imminent dangers to safety or health, failures to secure or repair an unsafe structure, allowing a nuisance that affects the health and safety of citizens, failures to obtain a required permit, and failures to maintain an operable fire door. Class 2 infractions include the presence of noxious gasses, unlawful use of uninhabitable rooms, failures to provide adequate heating or ventilation, and permitting an unlawful quantity of lead.

“We welcome housing providers to our city, but we are also sending a clear message that if you want to do business in DC, you need to do right by our tenants.”

The Do Right by DC Tenants Amendment Act of 2023 is co-introduced by Councilmember Charles Allen, Councilmember Trayon White, Councilmember Vincent Gray, Councilmember Anita Bonds, and Councilmember Matthew Frumin. An earlier version of this legislation was introduced by Councilmember Elissa Silverman in 2017.