Burleith Landlords, Your Neighbors Are Watching

by Mark Wellborn

Home in Burleith

Most property owners who rent out the English basement of their home are not too worried about whether or not it is registered with the DC Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). Well, amateur landlords in Burleith may want to think about registering.

DCRA recently received a list of 134 properties from a coalition of Burleith neighborhood groups who spent two months (yes, two months) walking the neighborhood identifying what they believe are illegal rentals. Using DCRA’s Property Information Verification System, the groups entered in property addresses that they believed had illegal rentals to see if the property was registered.

From the DCRA blog:

“We have sent letters to each of the property owners identified on the list asking them to please respond. If you are renting your property, please contact us immediately and we can assist you in getting your property licensed and, most importantly, inspected. We will not assess fines if you voluntarily come in and begin the licensing and inspection process.”

If the home owners do not respond within 15 days, DCRA will send investigators to the property. If it is determined that an illegal rental is being operated, the property owner will be fined.

See other articles related to: renting in dc, dcra, burleith

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/burleith_landlords_your_neighbors_are_watching/2659


  1. jag said at 12:22 am on Wednesday November 10, 2010:

    Of all the problems in the world….

  1. Charmaine said at 12:32 am on Wednesday November 10, 2010:

    DCRA need to direct their attention to tracking down shoddy developers that are building all over the city, instead of harrassing the owners of private homes.

  1. Matty D said at 9:38 am on Wednesday November 10, 2010:

    Thank God the authorities are fully investigating this scourge.

  1. Jason said at 9:39 am on Wednesday November 10, 2010:

    Seriously.. these people need hobbies.

  1. anon said at 9:46 am on Wednesday November 10, 2010:

    i am an unregistered landlord.
    i rent 2 bedrooms of my row house and i dont have a plan anytime soon to waste 2 days getting approvals from a system which is clearly just another revenue stream.

  1. dzad said at 10:05 am on Wednesday November 10, 2010:

    i have dealt with the DCRA, they are one of the worst departments in dc government to deal with.  134 people versus the DCRA; let me tell you whats going to happen - the dcra will look at the list, not know how to handle it, fight amongst themselves, forget about it, go to lunch, and continue to treat people with the utmost disrespect.  i encourage no one to deal with these idiots

  1. alissa said at 10:11 am on Wednesday November 10, 2010:

    A lot of this is tied to Burleith residents (and other area residents near Georgetown) complaining about people renting to Georgetown undergrads (as well as the noise and disturbances that they say Georgetown students cause) and also to Georgetown’s expansion plans that include adding more graduate students.

  1. landlord said at 10:52 am on Wednesday November 10, 2010:

    I too rent out a basement apartment that is not registered.  I had intended to do so but when I looked into the ridiculous process involved decided not too.  Appreciate the new website DCRA put up for information on the process, but this doesn’t solve the underlying problem that it’s a ridiculous process.

  1. CHguy said at 11:10 am on Wednesday November 10, 2010:

    Funny that they can immediately help with inspections. we had a shotty developer and our place wasn’t inspected and when the bond was contested they told us they have no inspectors to help us. with help of our city councilman we were told it woul dbe 8 weeks, then 4 weeks, then two weeks, then 6 weeks, then we are indefinately halting these inspections due to it being the endo of our fiscal year. to no suprise we haven’t had inspectors still come out and we have been on the list for over a year. DCRA is the biggest joke in DC

  1. GloverParker said at 6:32 pm on Wednesday November 10, 2010:

    I wonder how many of these 134 are english basements vs row houses rented out to students.
    I am guessing it’s the later and they are trying to create an issue for the landlords who don’t live there, never have and make money off loud GU students that upset the neighbors.
    I’d be upset if I paid what they pay in property taxes and have drunk kids screaming outside my window.
    The solution is for GU to build/acquire more realestate for students - or for students not to act like entiteled jerks. I don’t see any of those options happening anytime soon.

  1. Mike said at 11:31 am on Thursday November 11, 2010:

    I visited a potential rental recently, and while I was being shown the unit, the renting students upstairs were cranking up a stereo at 9 am, beer bottles strewn on the lawn.  A neighbor stopped by and told me not to rent because students had late night parties several times a week until the cops got called.  I can understand the frustration, although I don’t think DCRA will solve that problem.

  1. Christine said at 3:27 pm on Thursday November 11, 2010:

    Unfortunately the neighbors are doing this but at least we got notice early and got registered. At first glance the process was difficult but then we hired Rent Jiffy. My Realtor suggested them and needless to say we got licensed quick w/o any headaches. Moral of the story - hire an expediter and be done with the process so you don’t have to deal with the BS.

  1. former Georgetowner said at 5:35 pm on Thursday November 11, 2010:

    I think that the DCRA should be investigated.  My next door neighbor is operating an illegal rooming house, and the DCRA won’t do #$%. 

    They also won’t prosecute my builder who’s non-compliant with DC bond requirements. 

    I’ve contacted so many people about the DCRA - the attorney general and the inspector general, and they wont’ do shit either.  I think that the agency is laughable.  With all the money DC collects from us in taxes and parking tickets, you think that gov’t services would be decent.

  1. Mike Rupert said at 9:02 pm on Thursday November 11, 2010:

    Thank you all for your comments. This effort is in direct response to concerns of neighbors. We’ve worked hard to make the process to get licensed and, more importantly, inspected. We even started a blog specifically for challenges around basement apartments.

    There are a lot of myths about the process and we want to hear them all. So thank you. And if you have specific issues or headaches you’ve had email us at anytime.

    We did a similar effort in Georgetown and around Howard University in the Spring that got about 90 of 125 landlord to come into compliance. Several of the apartment had dangerous gas and carbon monoxide leaks.

    Why do we require licenses? Because of the inspection requirement. The licenses cost just over $100 a year. They are not a major revenue producer. But like we have seen in basements across the District - and most publicly when a student at Georgetown died just a few years ago - some of these apartments are unsafe and potentially deadly.

    If any of you want to provide details of your individual cases, email me directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and I’ll get on them right away. Give me your phone number in the email and I’ll call you right away. We want to prove that we’re not the DCRA you’ve been told about.

  1. Tom said at 9:21 am on Friday November 12, 2010:

    Thank you Michael.  I believe the DCRA is doing a very valuable service to the community which is primarily directed toward the safety of the occupants.  All those landlords that want a free pass of putting their tenants in harms way, it is time you start following the law.  If the University would build safe and affordable housing for its students ON-campus, the students would be in a much better condition, then dealing with many of the slumlords that only care about $.  Many students are forced into terrible conditions on-campus at very high rates (near the worse in the country) or off-campus nasty dwellings at very high rates.  Georgetown University is not taking care of its students, and instead makes it the DCRA, the community, the students problem.

  1. Julia said at 11:13 am on Friday November 12, 2010:

    There ARE reasons for regulations and inspections of rental units.  When my brother was in college he almost died in an apartment fire because there was inadequate egress. He was in the bedroom asleep and there was a major fire (in no way his fault) in the living room,  so he couldn’t get get to the front door, which was the only way out.  The bedroom windows had bars on them. He was technically dead when they found him, but EMS was able to revive him, and he’s ok, but spent weeks in ICU, the hospital and rehab.

    While I fully support accessory apartments, they have to be safe. Think about the ones you’ve seen.  How many of them have adequate emergency egress? 

    If the license is $100, it’s pretty dim to suggest the District requires this only as a revenue stream.

  1. TS said at 3:06 pm on Tuesday November 16, 2010:

    Actually, GU has built quite a bit of on-campus housing in recent years, despite roadblocks from many neighbors. What are the “terrible conditions on-campus,” by the way?

    If you don’t want student rentals in the neighborhood, why don’t you complain about Lenore Rubino, who promotes these investment properties through her website (lenorerubinogroup.com) while simultaneously denouncing their presence in the neighborhood? Isn’t she part of the problem?

  1. D said at 3:44 pm on Tuesday November 16, 2010:

    According to the Burleith Citizens Association website: “The neighborhood is wholly residential, forming a small oasis of peaceful greenery nestled alongside Glover-Archibald Park….Burleith is a quiet, almost purely residential, community of about 540 households. Though adjacent to Georgetown, the hustle and bustle of the city fades beyond Reservoir Road and 35th Street.”

    I guess these activists think the BCA is lying.

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