A Very Sad Sight

IMG_1865, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

I saw this on New Hampshire Ave just south of Georgia. It looks like there was an eviction. But it was gigantic, I couldn’t get all the items in one photo. It nearly stretched the whole block. It’s so sad that things get to this level.

Incidentally there was an article in the San Francisco Chronicle that says:

“Next year, many option ARM payments will begin to readjust, slamming borrowers with dramatically higher monthly mortgage bills. Analysts say that could unleash the next big wave of foreclosures – and home-loan data show that the risky loans were heavily used in the Bay Area.”

Hopefully this doesn’t hit the DC area to hard. Whatever the reason, it is truly heartbreaking to see the scene in the photo above.

47 Comment

  • What bothers me is when people start taking stuff – not only are you evicted and your stuff put our on the street (in the rain, in the snow) but it becomes a free for all. Personal documents, photos

    I understand eviction notices require a number of steps, and I’m not disputing a landlord’s right to his/her property. More humane are the states where an evicted tenants’ property is stored and can be reclaimed by paying the storage fee.

  • I said it before, but contractual disputes between private parties (landlords and tenants, financiers and loan holders, whoever) should not end up on the public sidewalk or be license to what should be considered illegal dumping.

  • I don’t mean to be negative, but no eviction comes as a surprise. Though I feel for their situation, they saw it coming and should have made provisions to store some of their things before they wound up on the street.

  • I agree with Geezer. The property should be stored at the owner’s expense for, say sixty days. If the owner doesn’t pay the storage fee within that time, auction the property. This would be much better than putting all of that crap in the public space.

  • Eli- But you still put the responsibility of getting a truck and movers on the property owner, not the tenant. I don’t think this will ever fly. Think about it, the tenant has failed to pay their rent, maybe for a year or even more. The owner has spent months and thousands of dollars on legal fees filing for the eviction. Once it is granted, the owner needs to either pay some laborers or gather up a dozen of his closest friends to clear the place out in a very limited amount of time. This is of course once they find a day where is it not too hot or too cold and definitely not raining or snowing, because contrary to Geezer’s comment, and largely due to Marrion Barry (I believe) evictions cannot occur under those conditions. So, after all of that, now we want the property owner who is likely out $10k or more to hire a moving company to get the tenant’s belongings to a storage facility. And then we expect the storage facility to accept the deadbeat tenant’s belongings without payment and hold them for 60? I agree an auction could recoup some money, but for whom? And how much? The evictions I’ve seen don’t produce the nicest “stuff.”

    That said, I agree, it sucks having it out on the street, but ad DC-er indicated, it gets picked over pretty quickly and is eventually picked up by DPW. I don’t think there is any need at all for more humane policies, however because as G Says says, eviction does not come as a surprise. The tenant has months and months to pay their rent, then months and months and months to move out on their own and finally, once the eviction is granted, months to move themselves and their stuff out, but they don’t. And I think it is fundamentally wrong to live in someone’s place without paying rent, regardless of your circumstances, it’s just wrong.

  • Eli, you are assuming a storage facility would want the stuff. Think about it, the evicted person cannot afford rent, what are the chances that their stuff would cover the storage rental? Furthermore, why would the storage place want the hassle of having to auction off someone’s old household furnishings. BTW in DC the Marshalls will not do an eviction if it is supposed to rain or weather will be lower than 50 degrees, many tenants know this so around this time of year, non-payment of rent cases start to spike b/c the tenants know they can pretty much live rent free until March.

  • G that is incorrect…I have heard of several situations where people are renting from a landlord and the landlord gets foreclosed on and doesnt tell the renters. They have no idea until they get evicted. These really are some of the worst situations because the renters have been paying for several months and all the time the landlord had been defaulting on his/her property.

  • Every eviction has a story. It could be a job loss, medical bills or, like mar says, a foreclosed landlord. Or maybe irresponsibility, but that shouldn’t be the first thought.

  • @DcRat – The scheme I had in mind was this: The city would enter into a contract with a private storage facility to house the property. The property owner would be responsible for paying the city for the facility. If the owner failed to do so after 60 days, however, then the city would sell/auction the property and place the proceeds into the storage facility payment fund. Thus, the storage facility would assume no risk. The biggest obstacle would be selling the property, but perhaps that could be outsourced to a private company. There’s also the risk that the property would not be worth the storage cost, but I imagine storage fees are pretty cheap in the nether regions of the city.

  • ASL- True, but can the property owner use the tenant’s story to pay his mortgage? You’re right, lots of bad things happen, for sure, but unfortunately, we are all responsible for paying our bills, and when we can’t we need to sacrifice; a smaller place, an older car, cheaper food, whatever. It’s sad, it’s tough, but it is also life. If the government wants to step in and do something, and the DC government has many programs available, then so be it, but it isn’t the landlord’s responsibility; they have obligations to fulfill as well.

  • Eli- Sounds well thought out, but as a taxpayer, I would totally object. I am really not interested in storing the belongings of these folks. Not to mention we are slashing the budget every which way just to try and get the ends to meet, I don’t see this happening and certainly wouldn’t support it. Also, from the evictions I’ve seen, the stuff left behind really isn’t that valuable. Folks seem to find a way to take the tv, computer and stereo, leaving behind the Ikea furniture, plastic storage bins and the like. I doubt the city would recoup its losses on most of the auctions.

  • Not leaving commentary just adding one more resource:


    “Residents who have been evicted have 72 hours to collect their belongings. After that, the Department of Public Works will collect any debris left on public space. Please provide specific problem and location information.”

  • Stubs – most everywhere else except for DC a landlord is responsible for storing the stuff for a period of time (30 days, 60 days, whatev) and then they can sell it or trash it or whatever they want. It’s part of the cost of doing business as a landlord and that’s one of the reasons they collect up-front deposits. But in the surreal la-la land that is DC landlords are allowed to dump their problems on city streets. It’s a disgrace. Storing 4-6 rooms of stuff for 60 days doesn’t cost more than $250 in a city literally lousy with storage facilities – what do you wanna bet it costs the city a whole hell of a lot more than that to send out a crew to clean up the trash on the street? If you are worried about taxpayers paying for this problem then you ought to want to change this idiotic practice. It’s should always be the landlord’s responsibility – that way they have to weight the cost/benefit of storage vs. working something else out.

  • People need to take responsibility for their actions. If they can’t pay their bills on NH Avenue, they should move to a cheaper area. (Instead of milking the free housing until they get thrown out.)

  • Interesting Story. A few years near Stanton Park a guy got evicted. I hadnt seen him around for months but a car was there and stuff was in the house. So the stuff got tossed out on the street. I was walking by the smallish pile and someone had laid out 3-4 drivers license with the same picture and different names and a bunch of business cards with the same names. I heard later that the guy may have been a con artist of some type. I have no idea what happened to the car.

  • Most everywhere else a landlord can evict a tenant without jumping through the hoops known as the DC Eviction process… the cost of lost rent is far superior to having to store a lousy tenant’s belongings. In VA a Sheriff can execute eviction 15 days from filing for it, in DC you go before a judge 3-4 weeks from filing for a hearing, the eviction may not occur for 3-4 weeks after that. Toughen the laws on both ends… you can’t always have pity for the party perceived to be getting “kicked out” Why didn’t they sell all their stuff to try and make rent? “Working something else out…” pay the rent, that’s the agreement.

  • Instead of storing, or sidewalking, just trash it. Unfortunately that stuff on the curb is not yours as a landlord, so even if you wanted to do good and store it, you would end up in tons of trouble for it. By the same rule, you aren’t allowed to throw it away either.. hence dpw. As far as selling it, most of what’s there isn’t worth the $$$ it took to move it in the first place

  • Very heartbreaking to see and we don’t know the whole story right now, but I must say that some of the tenants were disrespectul and irresponsible. Just a couple months ago they “cleaned out” their backyard and front porch by throwing their junk out into the alley behind them. What the heck!?!?!?

  • Last night I saw some people picking through that junk, and a couple of cars double parked around there, I dont know the deal was though.

  • I commented on this the last time we had someone’s stuff on the sidewalk. I will say it again; if you got evicted in DC you deserved it because the law gives responsible people every opportunity to end the situation amicably. For all those people thinking that landlords should store tenants belongings for 60 days: We already do!!!

    I am in the process of evicting someone now and after finally getting the last required step (I forget the legal term but its something like writ of restitution) and my lawyer says it will take 60 to 75 days for the Marshalls to actually show up and evict.

    So, this person knew they were being kicked out and all their stuff would be out on the street for at least 60 days and did nothing about it. The landlord probably didn’t collect any money during those 60 days. Sounds to me like this person got the free storage you guys are advocating.

  • JustJ – Thanks for weighing in with your experience, I think it really proves the point. I don’t want folks to end up on the street and I certainly feel bad for most who come upon hard times. But again, that isn’t the concern of a landlord or an apartment, they need to pay their own mortgage, bills, etc. I would hate having my belongings tossed out on the street AND I would hate to toss someone else’s belongings out on the street, although I’d imagine as the days and the dollars tick by in such a situation, it gets easier and easier. Is that true Just J?

    DC screws a lot of stuff up and the eviction process isn’t immune, but this aspect of it seems just fine to me. If only DPW really showed up according to schedule.

  • While I agree that in many/most cases the tenents were given notice, as someone mentioned above renters have been evicted when the landlord failed to pay the mortgage.

    And one of my neighbors was wrongfully evicted – she was taken to court by her landlord because of a rent dispute. The case was settled and she had court documents saying it was settled and she had paid her rent. But somewhere along the way the system failed and she was still evicted.

    I called her when I saw her belongings were being put out on the sidewalk – she rushed home but there was nothing she could do. The Marshalls doing the eviction wouldn’t stop and let her prove the rent was paid. Horrible experience.

  • It’s should always be the landlord’s responsibility – that way they have to weight the cost/benefit of storage vs. working something else out.

    This would only lead landlords to be that much more discriminating. That would further harm the low income people that can’t afford to live in this city. If you want my opinion, much of NW is too expensive for low income people. If I were low income, I would move somewhere cheaper. That way I wouldn’t have to worry about getting put out on the street.

  • My understanding is that this particular case is not a tenant/landlord issue but an owner who was unable to keep up with mortgage payments due to a death in the family.

  • Easier? I guess so. Its not easy kicking someone out but, the process is so long and there are so many opportunities and programs for tenants in DC that I personally think you have to just be a bum to get to the point where you actually get your stuff out on the street.

    People have this image of some upstanding citizen who gets laid-off from their job for no reason at all and now they all of the sudden are two months behind and are being evicted. The city doesn’t want those people evicted, and there is a rental assistance program that will give you money to pay your rent in hardship situations like that. In my experience, most responsible people who o through hardships find some way to make it work either catching up eventually or moving to someplace cheaper. But some people just can’t accept reality no matter what you say to them, those are the ones who end up with their stuff on the street.

    That being said, I don’t enjoy it, I don’t feel like I’m getting even or anything.

  • Anon @1:00

    If that is what happened that is truly unfortunate, but the renter has to use common sense. They send a notice to the house before it goes through foreclosure in DC, so the tenant knew about it. It takes months to evict someone after you foreclose, so they had plenty of time to find another place. The Marshalls notify you before you get evicted that they are coming to kick you out. YOU GET A NOTICE ON YOUR FRONT DOOR!

    Most responsible people would realize that there is the distinct possibility that all of their stuff could end up on the street are not going to stand around and do nothing. Wouldn’t you move out if your place had been foreclosed on? Wouldn’t you at least put your stuff in a U-haul if the Marshalls told you that they were coming to put all your stuff on the street?????

  • In the capital of a supposedly civilized country, you’d think the law would be a little bit less barbaric than this. Put it in storage, or cart it to the dump, but just throwing it out onto the street is 18 kinds of wrong.

  • Littering is littering, even if it caused by an eviction. That landlord should be cited for it.

    Whoever is responsible for the litter should pay to have it removed. In this case, I think both the landlord and the tenant should be jointly and severally liable, and they can fight over who must pay (the storage suggestion seem fine as long as the city doesn’t have to pay for it). Otherwise the cost is shifted to me, the taxpayer, and not the responsible party. How is that fair? Why should I have to pay for some landlord to kick people out and get his house back? Paying for responsibly disposing of the contents of a home should be a part of the cost of operating a home rental business, and I should not have to bear that cost in taxes or with the time I spend picking up the trash that blows into my yard.

  • I’ve seen an eviction at my current building (mgmt has been doing the condo thing, not it is my turn). It’s heartbreaking to see someone’s life on the street like that. Thankfully there was an organization to help this lady out.

  • Yatrakarna – how is the landlord responsible for the tenant not paying? You people live in a bubble. The landlord hasn’t been paid, the tenant is living for free. The tenant is littering by not moving their stuff out, forcing the landlord to move it. How hard is that? DC has the most favorable tenant rights in the country, did you not read JustJ’s comments? Work it out? They already worked it out, the tenant didn’t pay, the landlord evicted, the tenant didn’t move, the landlord paid to move the shit out on the street… as required by law. Notice there aren’t any programs to reimburse the landlord for lost rent or legal fees or time lost having to evict… You the taxpayer pay for subsidized housing, you pay for trash service, you pay for rental assistance/hardship programs… this is part of it. This doesn’t cost you any additional tax dollars… the trash man is paid to work, they don’t contract out special eviction trash collectors. Unbelievable…

  • The tenant has clearly decided they don’t want their stuff if they have stopped paying rent, ignored all the notices etc. So, telling the landlord to take on even more expense taking care of someone’s stuff who didn’t bother to pay them for months and months and months is asking a lot, I think.

  • Nate: I don’t need to be subsidizing your business with my taxes. It shouldn’t be DPW’s (i.e. the taxpayers) problem to clean up your mess. Why is it that in every other state the landlord is able to conduct his or her business without littering the streets with trash and causing his or her neighbors to have to deal with the consequences and costs?

    Boo-hoo, cry me a river and dab those crocodile tears dry with your subsidized rent payments and your taxpayer-funded clean-ups. Don’t like the game? THEN SELL.

    Some neighbors you D.C. landlords are.

  • Odentex – Do you assume the landlord doesn’t pay taxes? DC Law makes it DPW’s problem… maybe you should hold the defaulting tenant to the same standard as the landlord, after all they are the true cause of your discontent… it is their belongings and failure to pay that creates this blight.

    Some neighbors you DC defaulting tenants are.

  • are they trying to sell the house, maybe I can afford to make a buck on another person’s trouble:)

  • The law needs to be changed. And just because the law allows landlords to dump their problems on city streets doesn’t make it okay. If it’s such a burden to be a landlord than you should sell. No one is holding a gun to your head.

  • Looks like the property went into foreclosure back in May of this year.

  • Weren’t there like 10+ people living in that house? I’m sure they could have put their money together or sold some of their stuff instead trashing it in the yard or alley.

  • The law allows tenants to abandon their belongings in a property they are not paying for… that is the problem. The landlord is doing what they are required to do, it has nothing to do with it being a burden, it’s the law. No one is holding a gun to the tenants head, they choose not to pay or seek assistance in the event of a hardship. You continue to fault a landlord who is obeying the law, while you let the tenant off the hook for their wreckless abandonment…

  • Yatrakarna – how is the landlord responsible for the tenant not paying?

    The landlord is a homeowner and thus is responsible for keeping the immediate surroundings around the homes that he owns free of litter. It’s one of the responsibilities that goes along with property ownership. it might be the tenant’s fault, but it’s the landlord’s responsibility.

  • I don’t think you guys understand the eviction process very well. What landlord would purposely put a whole bunch of trash in front of a home that they own and leave it there for 3 days? It’s not the landlord that dumps their problems on city streets, the Marshalls do it!!!

    If it was legal landlords would pay to have tenants who don’t pay removed by a private company and skip the whole eviction process entirely. But the laws are pretty clear, there is an orderly process to evict someone from their home. This is the way our society is set up; don’t make landlords out to be the bad guy because they follow the law.

    Also, the law applies to homeowners as well as renters so telling everyone to sell isn’t a solution.

  • I am just happy that the little toddler boy who lived there is now homeless and will have to deal with this stress. It serves him right for not paying his bills on time and mooching off the system. I’m sure he’ll just find some other tax payer funded porch to drink his juice on.

  • Sucks.

    The likely case is that these people lived here for a decade, when the neighborhood was shit, and now they’re SOL. Maybe a sub-prime refinancing scam, maybe just lost their job, who knows. either way, they’re out and someone with more money to hold onto it, is moving in. If they were here through the 80s/90s they probably got chewed up and now that their neighborhood is livable, they’ve gotta go somewhere shitty again, away from the support of the neighbors that lived through that era with them. Sucks.

  • Actually, the US Marshals just post the final eviction notice and forcibly remove the residents if they happen to be present. The Marshalls hire a bunch of crackheads from up on North Cap to actually move all the resident property to the curb.

  • “I’m just following the law” doesn’t mean that it’s right. Landlords should be responsible for cleanup and the law should be changed to reflect that. Tax dollars should not be spent to clean up your messes. Period. If the laws in DC are so damn unfriendly to landlords it’s awfully f’ing strange you all still seem to be cashing checks, including those subsidy checks from the housing authority (even more tax dollars in your pocket). Stop whining, everyone knows your game.

    “I’m just following the law.”


  • Land lord’s are not legaly allowed to touch the belongings…that is why the marshalls remove it and DCPW picks it up. It’s ugly and it sucks to have happen (to both LL and T) but putting the stuff out is way the legal process works…not an option the LL chose.

  • People are having a hard time everywhere. Does anyone know if there is a backlog and how long of evictions in DC y the US Marshalls?

  • People are having a hard time everwhere. Does anyone know if there is a backlog and how long of evictions by the US Marshall Service?

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