From the Forum – Landlord trying to raise rent but refusing to make housing code repairs


Landlord trying to raise rent but refusing to make housing code repairs:

“Hey all. So I’ve been living in the same apartment for a few years now. Landlord wants to raise the rent. I told him i’m not willing to pay higher rent if he’s not willing to make certain repairs. Some of these are repairs I think are mandated by the housing code, including repairing: peeling paint, holes in the wood flooring and loose floorboards that have developed over time through wear and tear, gaps in would paneling in the floor through which ants get in, and gaps in the windows which similarly allow in insects.

I’ve taken photos, shared them with the landlord, who seems to think there’s no problem there and told me to pay up or else.

I think my move here is to contact the housing inspector and get him on record (although i’m hoping the threat of a housing inspection will get him in line). It also turns out he’s not registered as landlord with the proper office in DC and probably has an illegal basement apartment. All reasons I’d think a sensible landlord would back off and make the repairs.

Anyone have any experience with this? Can I withhold rent once the housing inspector finds violations?”

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70 Comment

  • First, I would talk with the landlord. It definitely sounds like you’re in an illegal rental and my guess is that he probably hasn’t paid taxes on his rental income. I think you should make it clear to him that not fixing the issues will make his life MUCH more expensive (getting up to code, having to get a C/O, fees and fines, back taxes, etc). Second, he can’t raise the rent without a Certificate of Occupancy. So he’s really up sh#t’s creek without a paddle.
    If he won’t listen to reason, then tell him you’ll be going to Tenant Advocate’s Office to discuss your options. I think there’s a formalized procedure for withholding rent (certified notification to the landlord, creating an escrow account, etc.), so you should do your homework on it.

    • Un-licensed DC rentals does not necessarily mean the owner does not report his/her earnings to IRS. It might just mean that the DC rental licensing system is arcane and broken, and difficult to achieve for some landlord. It is not the tenant responsibility to enforce landlord IRS tax payments either. People are forgetting two viable options not discussed which are a) state that you are considering moving out do to outstanding maintenance issues not being resolved and see how landlord responds or b) moving out and not renewing lease as a result of said issues. Gaps in floorboards and paneling, while a nuisance and could allow insects etc clearly, are not a housing code issue, they are an aesthetic complaint. Floors would need to be refinished and filled in with wood filler, which is very messy, smelly and dust gets everywhere. also is expensive for landlord. you don’t want to have anything there while this is done. Paint, depending on how bad its peeling etc and how prevalent, could be a housing code issue. If you bring up to code enforcement, they might force him to repair the paint, but it wont solve your issues and he’ll be HELLA angry with you and resentful in future. If he has not C&O and you report, he might be forced not to be able to renew and have to force you to move out at end of lease because it has no certificate. You need to be sensitive to the fact that this guy still will be your landlord after you get him in trouble with code enforcement, etc., Decide if maybe instead of paying higher rent AND poor maintenance, just move to a better place. Or find a way to work with him the honest way instead of through extortion of code enforcement. If you tell him you’re considering moving out, point out that he’ll have to make repairs for new tenants anyway and that its not presentable in current state. the vacancy he has for the month while he repairs the items will possibly be higher than if he performed repairs while you were still there and kept a on-time paying and clean tenant.

      • I agree with much of this advice, except housing conditions that allow for insect infestation clearly do constitute housing code violations.

        My hunch is that you’re paying below market rent for a below market product, and your landlord is getting greedy. You could always offer to agree to a higher rent, assuming it’s not too big of a jump, offer to conduct or oversee all of the repairs yourself, and deduct the cost from rent.

        Anything to avoid escalating this dispute beyond the two of you and involving either the city or the courts. It makes no sense to do that if you’re going to continue living in the same house as him. Life is too short.

        • Also agree with the above. But for any real answer – we need more details.

          1. How many is a “few years?” 2? 6? 10?
          2. What is your current rent and how much increase is he asking?
          3. What is the current average rent for comps in your location?

          And lots more things we simply can’t judge from your information. Gaps letting in insects – like the occasional trail of ants during ant season or constant swarms? A fly now and then or horror house full?

          There are just too many potential scenarios here for anyone to offer advice.

    • people like you are why I don’t rent out my basement apartment. which of course just makes housing more expensive in dc. but yeah, stick it to the man!

      • So you’re admitting that you’re scared of people who are knowledgeable about their codified rights?
        No one is forcing you to own a residence in DC. Virginia has much laxer laws, if that’s your main concern. A renter is paying for a habitable residence, free of vermin, pests, and other safety issues. If you can’t provide that, you have no business being a landlord.

        • I think the fear is that even if you do everything right as a landlord, you can still get a tenant who’s super picky or vindictive and can make your life very difficult. Not to say that is what is happening in the OP’s case, but that is definitely something I considered when I was deciding whether to rent my basement unit.
          That said, it does sound like this landlord is being pretty stupid. If you have a good tenant who pays on time and isn’t a PITA, it is a million times more valuable to keep that person happy than get greedy and jack up the rent $100 a month (while also not performing regular upkeep on your unit).

      • so you were planning on being a shitty unaccountable landlord? good! we don’t need more people like you either!

        • Just because you don’t get a C of O doesn’t mean you’re going to be a shitty unaccountable landlord. Sometimes basement apartments don’t meet exact C of O guidelines and could take hundreds of thousands to fix (ceiling height requirements are a good example — 1 inch too short and you can’t get a C of O), so people choose to rent them out without a C of O. The apartment might still be perfectly liveable and the landlord might be attentive.

      • correct, my ceiling is 1″ too short.

        the attitude about landlords ignores the fact that the landlord in this case (and in mine if I rented it out) is just a person who owns a home and wants to rent out the basement for a little income, not some evil caricature of a greedy developer.

      • Why, because you want to act like a slumlord?

    • I think it’s a leap to assume that unlicensed (with DCRA) means that income tax isn’t being paid (both to IRS and DC Treasury). As noted above, DCRA registration is a pain in the arse and (arguably) really not helpful or useful to either party in a basement rental unit lease, for instance. The main leverage a tenant in an unlicensed rental unit does have is that it is a virtual certainty the landlord will lose if the tenant files suit in DC landlord-tenant court. Likewise, I think it’s a leap to say the landlord CAN’T raise the rent without a CofO. It’s entirely possible that contracting parties can agree to raise the rent and enter a new lease perfectly well. It’s only if the tenant wanted to challenge the “pay more rent or get out”-aspect of this (say, by simply holding over and paying the previous rent into escrow with DC courts) that the landlord rapidly would lose leverage. But do you really want to go nuclear with your landlord? In some cases, it may be justified, but I think most tenants probably prefer not to view the relationship on which their housing depends as zero-sum.

  • I definitely think that you’re within your rights to want the repairs done. But the issue in my view is that your landlord sounds sketchy and like he does not intend to live up to his responsibilities as a landlord. If you have to go to the Tenant Advocate to get him to address basic issues of safety and integrity of the unit, it may not be worth staying. You may just want to cut your losses and get another unit.

    • These sound more like small, quality-of-life type of repairs and not an imminent threat to the physical safety of the tenant. My guess is that the OP has a good deal on the place and will be spending significantly more money on rent if he/she tries to get a new place in the current real estate market. I think it’s worth the cost saving to the OP to get this addressed. The OP has all the leverage here. If the OP leaves the place, it will just reward the negligent landlord – he’ll get to jack up the rent and a new tenant will move into the same shabby place.

      • Holes that allow vermin and insects into the unit are threats to the tenant’s health as well as code violations. This is not a small deal, and the landlord’s lax attitude toward dealing with those issues does not bode well for them having a workable relationship in the future. When something big is going wrong, you don’t want to have to guess whether your landlord will fulfill their responsibilities. Or worse, have to shoulder the cost of fixing it because the landlord won’t.

        The options seem to be 1) continuing to advocate unsuccessfully for completely reasonable fixes 2) take the scorched earth approach and get the housing administration involved or 3) move. IMO moving is the best of a bad group of options. Paying more sucks, but it’s money well spent to avoid being saddled with an irresponsible landlord who clearly doesn’t have OP’s best interests at heart is not where I want to save money.

        • Fair points. I guess I’m more hard headed on these matters and have no issues forcing the landlord to live up to his responsibilities. Then again, I lived in NYC for years, have dealt with these issues and realize that business is business. Money in my bank account is more important to me than worrying about whether or not I hurt my landlord’s feelings (aka allowed him to maximize his profits). The OP will do whatever is right for them, which might be moving to a new place in order to not deal with this inconvenience. That said, the OP has plenty of leverage in this situation should they prefer to remain in the apartment.

          • i think it’s fair to say that most landlords of english basements in rowhouses in dc aren’t primarily concerned with “maximizing profits” and are more concerned with helping pay their mortgages.

          • Are we supposed to feel sorry for you?
            You shouldn’t be forced to keep a habitable residence for your tenants simply because you’re trying to pay your mortgage?
            Your tenants should suffer because you bought more house than you can afford?
            The problems described by the OP are in direct violation of the housing laws for the interior of residences. All holes in floors and windows must be filled and fixed. Floor boards should not be loose. Paint should not be peeling. And insects and rodents should not be present (to a relative degree, IMO). These are not negotiable issues and are relatively cheap repairs in the grand scheme of home ownership.
            Would you allow these issues to occur in the part of the house that you live inside? If the answer is “No”, then make the repairs for your tenants.

          • if the property is not to your liking why wouldn’t you just move? what good does a lawsuit do?

          • Because (1) the rent is cheap and (2) the OP actually likes living here, except for these few problems which the landlord is required to fix. Does that makes sense to you?

          • so the problems are actually just whining. got it.

  • Clearly your landlord is an idiot, especially if, as appears likely, he doesn’t have a C of O for the basement. But if you want to stay in the place and continue to live relatively peacefully, notwithstanding your landlord sucking, then the last thing you want to do is get the city involved.

    Here’s what I’d do. C of O or no C of O, he owns the place and you can’t stop him from raising the rent. Just let him. But then give him written notice that you will withhold rent, depositing what’s due to him in a separate account, until he makes the repairs you’ve demanded. It’s then it’s up to him. He can either make the repairs, or try and evict you. My hunch is that he won’t try and evict because, if he does, it will take a very long time to make it happen and will also be very unpleasant for him — likely exposing him to fines and penalties, as the previous poster suggested. But if he does seriously try to evict you, why take him on? Who wants to live downstairs from a horrible landlord. Move out at that point, without paying him any back rent.

    One final note. Just because he doesn’t have a C of O or business license doesn’t mean he isn’t declaring the income or paying taxes on it. Two entirely separate things.

    • I know you’re a lawyer and your job is to imagine all the farfetched possibilities, but do you really think a guy who is illegally renting out his place – and is a negligent landlord at that – is actually paying District and federal taxes on the income? I seriously doubt it. I’d say there’s a 5% chance he’s actually paying the correct amount.
      Also, you need a C/O to raise the rent in DC, regardless if you’re exempt from rent control. If you rent out a residence without C/O, you should expect that you’ll never be able to raise the rent. That’s the law.

      • It’s really not an outlandish proposition. The consequences for not reporting income and paying the appropriate taxes to the Federal govt can carry criminal charges–i.e., jail time, whereas I believe the C of O and code stuff is just be civil charges and fines. But I’m not a lawyer, although I do know people who report income (and deduct expenses) related to rental units that don’t carry all of the necessary bureaucratic stamps of approval.

        That’s a long way of saying that if he’s lying to the IRS he has much bigger problems than DCRA.

      • You also need a C/O to be able to rent the unit in the first place, which he likely does not. Therefore the rules that would normally apply to rent increase regulations don’t apply since he chooses not to operate within those regulations to begin with. OP is free to report these violations, but it can make for an escalation with an landlord living upstairs that make things very uncomfortable that might not be the best path to take.

        • Huh? This makes no sense. By your logic the OP could just simply ignore the landlord’s rent increase and continue to pay the current amount. Since, ya know, there’s no C/O or rules to abide to. Lawlessness goes both ways in the scenario you’re proposing, right? Or do the benefits of lawlessness only accrue to the landlord?
          Regardless of where we all stand on this, I think everyone agrees that the OP should try to work it out with the landlord before involving any city agencies. Part of that conversation includes letting the landlord clearly know that not making the repairs will become MUCH MORE expensive for him. Carrot & stick, and all that.

      • It’s not farfetched in the slightest to imagine that many landlords will think nothing of ignoring DCRA rules requiring permits and licenses — but think twice about messing with the IRS. In fact, you’re talking to one. I’ve rented out my basement without a C of O for years, I have reported all the income, and I have raised the rent with every new tenant.

        • Yeah, but you’re actually an attentive landlord. That’s a huge difference. Your tenant wouldn’t be writing in to PoP’ville to complain about you, since you’re actually providing a habitable residence. That’s a fair shake, regardless of how we feel about the DCRA.
          The OP’s landlord doesn’t seem like the sharpest tool in the shed. His greed is putting him at a huge financial liability. There’s nothing wrong with the OP exploiting that, IMHO.

          • The problem is that, in the process of “exploiting” the landlord, the tenant is also hurting himself. If he takes this dispute beyond himself and the landlord, he’s opening a pandora’s box that, in the end, will bite him in the ass as much as the landlord.

            I’d be humming a different tune if he were complaining about serious violations, but he’s not. If he wants to stay where he is, and leave in peace, he’s got to work this out informally with the landlord. Realisictally, there’s no other way.

          • “If he takes this dispute beyond himself and the landlord, he’s opening a pandora’s box that, in the end, will bite him in the ass as much as the landlord.”
            Stop using scare tactics. The OP will be perfectly fine at the end of this, if he/she goes to the Tenant Advocate. Yes, the preferred and more timely method is to work it out directly with the landlord. That’s best for everyone in this situation. However, if the landlord is obstinate, what do you recommend happens? Moving out is stupid and just gives the landlord what he wants, while the OP is forced to pay more regardless.
            OP – to be clear, your housing situation is in no way threatened if you decide to report your landlord. He can do nothing to you that is legal. If he does anything such as threatens you or enters your domicile without the proper notice, it is a matter to be taken up with the police. Yes, it might make for difficult relations with your landlord, but life is full of those types of situation. Business is business.

          • @I can smell BS from here:

            If being “perfectly fine” is living below a landlord who hates you, and vice versa, then you’re right. And I never once suggested that the tenant simply pack up and move out. You need to re-read my posts.

  • Does he live upstairs, or are those people renters too?

  • Gonna disagree with everyone who advises against getting the city involved. You have rights as a tenant and leaving or witholding rent without a full understanding of the laws and protections just allows the landlord to pass the problems you’re having on to the next tenant.

    DC housing regulations are available here:

    • Respectfully, your advice is textbook and amateur. It ignores the reality that the described housing code violations are relatively minor and that the tenant wants to stay in the apartment. His concern isn’t with protecting the rights of the next tenant, but of himself.

      One doesn’t necessarily have to go to the authorities to exercise their rights. You do not need permission from anyone to withhold rent for housing code violations; you simply need to identify the violations in writing, give the landlord reasonable time to address them, then if he doesn’t address them inform him in writing that you are withhold rent and depositing the rent in a separate account until the violations are addressed. The landlord will not be able to evict you under these circumstances, and there will be no “passing on” of problems to the next tenant. All that will happen is that the landlord will make the repairs.

      • “Respectfully, your advice is textbook and amateur.”
        I remember your type in law school. I couldn’t wait to graduate to get away from people who think it’s ok to say things like this.

        • That’s fine, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m right. There’s more to lawyering than reading the books.

        • He’s just annoyed because he’s an illegal landlord and doesn’t want potential tenants to get wise as to what are their rights are in this town. I mean, he should have just said that in his first post so we all knew where his prejudices lie.
          Furthermore, as a lawyer he especially should know that if you can’t do the time, then don’t do the crime. Everyone thinks they’re a special snowflake and that the rules shouldn’t apply to them and their bottom line.

          • Oh, paleeeze. I’ve been advising the OP of his “rights” for the last hour. Anyone who thinks that the answer to this particular tenant’s problems is to run to court or the city is again, an amateur.

          • $10 says half the anti-development NIMBY’s in this town that make business difficult have illegal rentals.

  • I agree with the earlier commenter that these sound like aesthetic complaints and not housing code violations. (The house that doesn’t let in ants has never been built.) So if the landlord provides the OP with 30-day written notice of intent to increase rent, and it’s been a year or more since the last increase, and the increase is less than CPI+2% (~ 3.2%) it’s legit. If the OP doesn’t like the amenities, paint job, etc. at a price the landlord is willing to offer, isn’t it best to move?

    • the stuff about notice of raising rent and CPI+2% is for rent-controlled units only. many units in DC aren’t rent controlled.

      OP, you are not going to get reliable landlord-tenant (or other legal advice) online. Go to the office of the tenant advocate ( or the landlord-tenant resource center (weekday mornings, 510 4th st NW). Call 311 if you want an inspection.

  • Op says he/she has been there a couple of years, so the lease is probably up. If, at this point, the OP doesn’t like the conditions of the property, and doesn’t think the proposed rent is fair market, then he should go find something more to his liking.

    • Again, that’s not legal. The landlord cannot raise the rent on an existing tenant in DC without a certificate of occupancy. That’s the law. He can’t force the OP to pay more.

      • Yes, he can force the OP to pay more. And the OP can then refuse the pay. And the landlord can then sue to evict. And then the OP can say, hey, he doesn’t have a C of O! And then the landlord will be fined and forced to comply with DRCA. And then the tenant will either have to pay the higher rent, or be evicted.

        The law does not allow for squatters on every property in the district that doesn’t have a C of O. The DC Court of Appeals has made this clear.

      • He also couldn’t rent it out in the first place without a CofO, so I don’t see that this line of reasoning is going to be productive.

        • So then as a renter, what’s forcing me to abide by his price increase? There’s no C/O, so the renter also doesn’t need to follow the normal rules. The landlord has zero leverage in this scenario, short of doing something very illegal.

          • As someone else said up above, I don’t think the landlord will find this line of reasoning compelling (You can’t raise my rent b/c you don’t have a Cof O), b/c the landlord didn’t care about getting a C of O in the first place. Who has leverage or how miserable the OP wants to be while getting a fresh coat of paint on the walls is another matter.

  • OP, you can also go to the Tenant Advocate’s Office without implicating your landlord. You don’t need to reveal where you live. Just explain your situation and get advice.
    I think it might be good to talk to them before you speak with your landlord so that you have all the correct information and know what your rights are/what is not covered. It can’t hurt you.

    • I think this is great advice. Also, without knowing more background on your situation, we are all making a lot of assumptions. You say you’ve lived there several years. Have you generally been happy and has the landlord generally been responsive? Does he live in the same building? Is your current rent + the increase still a good deal for whatever area you’re in (notwithstanding the maintenance issues)?
      Without knowing the answers to those questions it’s hard to give appropriate advice.

  • Now let’s just all stop and think about one thing – if Anon Lawyer really had good advice to be offering, why would he be wasting an hour of billable time posting something here when he could be billing clients for real work? Either he’s unemployed for a whole possible litany of reasons (incompetence not the least of them) or worse, he’s actually billing a client for the time he’s trolling and posting here.

    • LOL. Maybe they’re “on the beach” this week?

    • @Curious Party —

      So everyone understands, that I’ve chosen to offer some advice here makes me either uemployed or incompetent, but that you’ve chosen to offer nothing of substance and instead to insult is perfectly fine?

      I’ve reached the point in my career where I don’t have to account for or bill every hour of my day. So, if on a slow day, I see something posted on PoP where I think I have something to add, and I feel like adding, I add. I’m pretty fortunate in this job after all these years.

      Having said all of that, I’m now reading the OP’s 5:55 post and, boy, he is now telling a far different story than he did originally. So, you’re right — I have been wasting my time!

      • Just now reading this post. What exactly in the OP’s 5:55 post makes you say that you’ve been wasting your time?

    • I’m not sure why people aren’t agreeing with Anon Lawyer. Is it that hard to have a conversation with the landlord about rent increases and improvements that’s actually in everyone’s best interest. When did it become fashionable for the first approach = burn and pillage…”business is business” – true to an extent, but also if that’s how you approach everything..ewww. Look if you go to the landlord and he isn’t reasonable – then by all means…go hogwild with business is business.

      • FWIW, I’m reading Anon Lawyer’s posts in this thread and silently nodding, realizing he is _owning_ his sparring partners. But why chime in when he’s doing a perfectly fine job on his own. And I’d actually say his status as a landlord is much more compelling than his status as a lawyer in terms of bolstering his bona fides to speak with some authority.

  • OP,
    Legal issues aside – lets look at economics.
    How big is the increase as a percent of your monthly rent? Have you investigated what renting a new unit in your neighborhood with similar features and size would cost? Would you save money by staying and paying the increase?
    If so then sit down with your landlord face to face – no phone, no emails – in person. Say that you agree to the amended terms of your lease but that you would really appreciate that the repairs are made. No need for floor refinishing, but simple easy maintenance that will ensure that insets and other vermin are kept out of the apartment. Then ask if you can repaint the rooms with pealing paint and deduct the paint/supplies from next months rent.
    If all that works out stay – if not look elsewhere for a better deal. Try to develop a relationship with your landlord – I’m sure she/he would rather have a nice pleasant long-term tenant than a new tenant every year and additional income (with associated stress).

  • Hey all, OP here. Thanks for all this. A little more information:

    The landlord lives in another state. He is an absentee landlord who is exceedingly difficult to get to make repairs. Some of you have suggested I am paying below market rent. That’s sort of true. I’m paying below market rent if we assume the apartment has central air, a dishwasher, and new floors. It has none of those things. So i’m paying a bit above market in my opinion, but not by much. He could easily charge 2500+ if he added those amenities. He hasn’t.

    I’ve been here three years. There is a tenant in the basement who has been there just as long. Her apartment’s in even worse shape and he hasn’t sought to raise the rent on her. But she’s also failed to ask him even to repair the heat for two years out of concern he might retaliate! She’s been using a space heater. That’s nuts.

    I have tried to work this out with the landlord peacefully and informally for the past few weeks. He’s not been cooperative and seems to think he doesn’t need to do anything and that he can raise the rent despite not being licensed or registered. He’s threatened me in writing no less with retaliation if I go to the OTA or get an inspection. He’s made claims that if he is ordered to make repairs he will raise my rent again (which he can’t do because he’s both unlicensed and has already raised the rent once this year, in September).

    I have been in touch the OTA extensively. They’re a great resource, if anyone else out there has trouble with their landlord.

    I’d like to stay in the apartment, I like the neighborhood, and I get that going official on him with the city will lead him to be more antagonistic. But I don’t have any other way to get these repairs done (and I wouldn’t call them cosmetic–I had serious bug infestations and the second floor had mice. I have a cat, so they stay away). And it seems I’m in my right to do so.

    • Wow, that is nuts. Thanks for clarifying the background on the story. Sounds like in this case it might actually be beneficial to report him. He can threaten you all he wants, but he probably knows that he could end up getting royally screwed if you actually do end up reporting him.
      The downside is, if he is forced to bring the house up to code you might have to move out anyway, so that is something to consider. What has the OTA advised you to do?

    • Just as we assumed – he’s a scummy, absent landlord. I’d fight him and go official. He doesn’t live nearby and you seem to like your place/location/price.
      My suggestion is to team up with the woman in the downstairs apartment. He’s limited by how much he can increase the rent on her (and definitely can’t increase it on you until Sept 2014). He would need to apply for a special waiver to go higher than the legally allowed increase and that waiver is only applicable for a certain subset of reasons, one being “capital improvements” but that does not include expenses in order to come up to code. I doubt the housing office would even give him that waiver, since he’s running things illegally and already looking at fines.

    • feel free to go hogwild. I’d also start looking for a new place in the neighborhood….I doubt this solution ends well for anyone but the next renter..which is good end result..but I think you’ll eventually have to leave as well.

    • Damn – that is why I think this is less a legal issue and more of an economic one. If it makes economic sense to stay (including both sub-standard housing, time spent dealing with scum landlord, and general decrease in personal welfare) then ride this ride as long as you can. If the cost to move is slight but the subsequent increase in personal welfare is dramatic it might make sense to get off this ride. Just do not fool yourself that getting repairs are going to be free – you’ll be spending a lot of time and energy.

    • As someone who agrees in the abstract with everything Anon Lawyer said above, in your case, I say nuke this turkey, if you want. There’s really no good way out. You’re going to have a toxic relationship with your landlord if you do it, but you have one (or almost one) already.

      The only out I can see short of this is self-help. Tell him in writing ahead of time, but don’t wait for an answer: “Based on your repeated failure to respond to my requests for x, y, and z, I now see no option (short of legal action) other than self-help. Therefore, I will handle contracting for all these repairs to be made, at your expense, and withholding the amount from my rent until it is paid in full. In lieu of rent, I will submit invoices to you for the full amount of the repairs, including materials and labor, for your records. Please also be advised that, should you attempt to raise rent in retaliation, I will have no option other than the courts to resist such retaliatory rent increases.”

      Of course, if you do that, expect you’ll have to sue to get your deposit back once you decide to leave.

  • What he could do is probably say that he will make improvements to the property and kick you out. Then he could offer the housing for increased rent. So I think it may be your best interest to work with him to find a solution.

  • The OP and many folks here have a very odd view of this situation.

    OP knew (let’s pretend you didn’t) it was an unregistered basement, which didn’t bother him until he found a way to use it against the landlord. It is a cheap rental for a reason, you can’t have first class finishes and property management while paying for a second class place. None of the issues you mentioned sound like anything remotely serious that the city could or would enforce.

    At last count, DCRA estimated there were approximately 50k unregistered apartments in DC. They are serving a intergral function in proving lower cost housing options to a large population of people. 99% of them are regular homeowners who aren’t going to spend the tens of thousands to raise first floor ceilings, or recircuiting power. Taking these units out of circulation would immediately raise rents in DC 10-15% overnight, more so in hot spots like the 14th street corridor etc.

    DC law doesn’t allow people to become squatters in a property, so thinking you can stay indefinitely, without the landlord either throwing you out, or simply not renewing your lease is laughable.

    I suggest the OP run the scenario out to its logical conclusion. You force the landlord to spend the time and money upgrading your space, and getting it registered (if it even can be). Then he does raise your rent, and/or evicted you or doesn’t renew your lease.

    The end result is you are out on the street competing with everyone else to pay astromincal prices to live in marginal places or apartments.


  • im in a worse situation, the house has no certificate of occupancy no heat the town put a condemmed sighn on and thank god i took a copy , and nany cam had the inspector condemming it there for one open wires no junction boxes a heater plugged in under the place that could have exploded the propane water heater, i finally got the health inspector to go above everyone, he apoligized said he didn’t know it was this bad, now the landlord who wouldn’t fix anything and im listed as a maintance shed under real property the other 2 homes a barn and a normal shed neither the less he pay”s no tax and tells me he can only afford to give me 3000 to relocate funny i gave him that to move in

  • To the OP

    Your landlord, (from the picture on your post) sounds like someone me and my roommates know and have experienced.
    How does one get in touch here privately?

    If you’re unsure, check his name on “dc court records online” and you will find together w/ his so -called partner “absentee landlord” is in Alexandria, Va.

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