From the Forum – Random DCRA inspection?

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Random DCRA inspection?

“Came home to a flyer on our door from DCRA saying they had come by and “attempted to inspect” our house–and we should call to reschedule. Anyone ever hear of that? Do they random inspect or would someone have called them? We’ve had some painting recently done and repairs to our staircase but nothing that seemed to need permitting, and nothing that has irritated neighbors to the best of our knowledge. I’m on good terms with them all (I think). Strikes me as very odd (also because they note a different address than our house–it’s a corner and used to have doors on both streets but they used the old address that no longer has a door and isn’t the official address). Anyone hear of a scam this way? Wondering if I should call to reschedule or ignore.”

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17 Comment

  • Personally? I would ignore and force them to put in the effort to waste my time. The city is soooooooo bad about following up on things and it doesn’t sound like there’s any sort of penalty if you ignore the notice.
    My guess is that a nosy NIMBY saw work being done on your place and assumed that it was work that required permits.

    • ah

      I’m guessing the same . . . although I might call them (and keep notes that you called) so you won’t come back here in 3 months saying “DCRA fined me for something without ever trying to inspect”. I think there’s a 90% chance they don’t follow up even if you call. (FWIW, DCRA apparently has the authority to come onto properties to inspect for violations . . . no warrant needed)

      BTW, post below about apartments is different – there’s a “proactive” apartment inspection program to try to keep landlords on their toes.

      • Is there any sort of justification, explanation, or probable cause they have to prove to somebody to force an inspection? Or can they just show up, demand to enter your house, and then fine you for whatever they find? Seems like a great system for soliciting bribes, which has been my experience with the DCRA.

        • ah

          I don’t believe they can demand to enter your house without getting some sort of warrant. They are allowed, I believe, to inspect the grounds around your house (e.g., mowing, rats, etc.) without a warrant. If you have a construction permit they may have somewhat increased authority.

          Any system that allows for fines is subject to bribes – police officers have been stopping motorists for years and telling the alleged violator they can “take care of the matter right there”.

  • I live in one of those large apartment buildings with a faceless corporate owner. We are notified of all inspections by our property manager, of which I think some are mandated by DCRA. Needless to say, I have never been contacted directly by DCRA. If you smell a potential scam, contact DCRA (by looking up their number or calling 311, not by using the number on the flier) to see if it this is in any way legit. You also might want to do a reverse look up on the phone number on the flier. Good luck and keep Popville posted. I’m sure many would like to know if this is indeed a scam.

  • I have been to a DCRA hearing recently and all cases of incorrect address were thrown out immediately. I would suggest contacting them to say nothing more than that you do not own the property listed on the flyer.

  • Recieved one of these notices about 2 yrs ago…I believe DCRA has a goal to inspect all/most residential buildings in the city in the next few years. I contacted my landlord before replying, he verified it wasn’t a scam. Was working retail at the time so I was able to schedule the inspection for a time I would be home. Inspector and landlord came by, did a quick look around, small talk, etc. Inspector was actually really friendly and this seemed like a good service from the city. Basically making sure people aren’t living in slum conditions. I would let you landlord know though, mine had to swing by before hand to make sure he had all the right certificates hanging up (and was present for the inspection too).

    • You’re talking about a different program for apt buildings. I got one of those inspections for the building I manage. It is not the same as the flyer they put on single family homes that have been flagged for having unpermitted work.

  • I got one of these a couple years ago, I thought it was a mistake as it referred to a tenant and I own so I called to clear things up. DC Water had apparently sold me out as I was doing some work when they were replacing my sewer line in public space.

    I refused the inspection as I was busy, the guy asked me to call him when I wasn’t and I indicated that was not going to happen. That was the end of it.

    It is probably legit but I would not comply, you don’t really have anything to gain by letting them in. Maybe call and see what it is about and then blow them off, or just blow it off entirely.

  • I had something similar and it was related to tax assessments or something. They left a number and I called he just asked about the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and the like.

    • Don’t answer that either, I returned a form while in Texas about a home I had just brought (like a fool) and my taxes got jacked up considerably

  • DCRA does inspect properties to verify they are not vacant. If they are vacant, it gets kicked over to tax and revenue and then the owner gets charged a higher tax rate. They used to (several years ago – when I was trying to “prove” I owned/lived in what had previously been a vacant property) have a list on their web site to show when an inspection had been conducted – it listed the date/time and whether you were home or not. It might be a scam, but it might be a legitimate inspection to verify your property is occupied.

  • The fact that the address was an old one and is not valid sort of verifies that it was DCRA and not a scammer, right? A scammer would probably be smart enough to just copy the street number down and put it on their sheet. DCRA will probably just write down whatever was in their book or print out.

  • I received one of these before as well. My experience is to ignore it and nothing came of it. It may be a complaint for working without permits. Check under

    Put in the address of the property they have listed and check under both residential and commercial cases. If there is a recent complaint I would assume someone called in on you and DCRA is investigating.

  • Please give me a call at 202-442-8935 regarding the notice you received. DCRA does conduct random inspections but most are complaint driven.
    Director Nick Majett

    • Wow! If this is truly Mr. Majett, I am very impressed! PoP, please confirm the legitimacy of the e-mail address for folks.

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