How DCRA is Handling Building Inspections During the Public Health Emergency

by Nena Perry-Brown

This morning, DC's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) shared how building inspections are being conducted during the current public health emergency.

DCRA is still conducting proactive inspections, both in-person and virtually. Virtual inspections are being conducted using Google Duo or FaceTime. If an emergency, a virtual inspection may be scheduled the same day, and if it is a routine inspection, those may be scheduled within 3-5 days.

The implementation of virtual inspections also makes for more convenient scheduling of inspections with tenants. In cases where the customer does not have access to Google Duo or FaceTime, the inspection may be scheduled for after the public health emergency.

In-person inspections are being prioritized for construction inspections, or for after-hours and emergency situations. Inspections can be conducted by resident inspectors who have attained certification.

Landlords are not required to be present during inspections in order to minimize contact, and if in-person inspections are required, those inspectors are provided personal protective equipment. Tenants have the option to decline access to the unit for inspection or repairs, although DCRA must be able to verify that the tenant declined this access. 

The public health emergency also came right after DCRA began rolling out a risk-based algorithm created by Georgetown University to target proactive multifamily housing inspections to prioritize problem properties. This algorithm uses DCRA's data, including size and age of property and previous inspection records, to identify which properties are at the highest risk for violations to be found.

Moving forward, rather than inspecting 15-50% of units in a building with three or more units, the agency is instead opening up proactive inspections to include any resident that requests an inspection. DCRA is also bringing violations to landlords' attention prior to inspection when possible, issuing notices of infraction if violations are still found at the time of inspection.

In addition to the public being able to reach DCRA via email (dcra@dc.gov) or by calling 202-442-4400, the DCRA website also has a live chat function during business hours. 

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/how-dcra-is-handling-building-inspections-now/16730

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