Building-wide issue with apartment tenant. What to do?

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Topic: Building-wide issue with apartment tenant. What to do?

Real Estate May 16, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Building-wide issue with apartment tenant. What to do?

I live in a small, economically and racially diverse low and middle-income apartment building in Columbia Heights.  All of the tenants get along great and the landlord is fairly effective and responsive.  However, there is one group of tenants that live in the unit above mine who are frequently loud, are running an unlicensed daycare in their unit, and often jam the front door so that their guests can enter and leave at all hours of the day and night (the door is typically locked).  My wife and myself and several other tenants have frequently complained about their behavior and while management has cited them for excessive noise several times, these individuals seem to ignore the citations and their behavior is continuing.  I hate the idea of threatening anyone with eviction or evicting anyone but after two years of these problems I feel that the building should be taking a more assertive stance toward this problem.  Many others in the building feel this way.  I assume that the building is not being more assertive because my understanding is that it is nearly impossible to evict anyone in DC, but I’m not entirely sure.
Several of my neighbors and I want to put more pressure on these people to get them to either change their behavior or get out.  And before anyone judges, the people angry about this come from a variety of ethnic groups, income levels, and general outlooks on life.  This isn’t a case of one racial group in the building ganging up on another or anyone like that.  What, if anything, can the management company do about this to actually penalize these people for their behavior?  I think that eviction may be able to be avoided if they were forced to adhere to some lesser penalty.

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These people are putting you in danger by leaving your building door open so that not only their friends, but any burglar, rapist, murderer, whatever, can enter off the street.  I’m not sure what would be the appropriate entity to contact, but if they are running an unlicensed daycare, they are breaking the law.  You can either threaten them that you’re going to take action with the authorities or you can go ahead and do it and have them booted out yourself.  If I were you, I wouldn’t have any sympathy here.  They clearly don’t give a crap about you.

I don’t know about threatening your neighbors…  With what would you threaten them?  Would they even care?  But I agree that you should report the unlicensed daycare to the appropriate authorities.  Ideally those authorities would get the landlord involved, which may push the building management to take a harder line with these tenants, but at least it should get the daycare shut down.  Keep reporting them if they start the daycare up again.


If you want to complain to the city, OSSE is the regulator for day care.  From their site:

Complaints and Unusual Incident Reporting
To make a complaint about child care services call the Complaint and Unusual Incidents Hotline: (202)727-2993 or send an email to [email protected]  Complaints may also be faxed to the Compliance and Integrity Division at (202) 727-7295.
Contact Phone: (202) 727-1839
Contact Fax: (202) 741-5403
Contact TTY: 711
Contact Suite #: 4th Floor
Office Hours: Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
GIS Address: 810 1st Street NE
City: Washington
State: DC
Zip: 20002

If this is still occuring and no relief in sight:
1. Zoning – conducting a commercial activity in a residential building withou a C of O (certificate of Ocupppancy)
2. Conducting a business without a licnese
3. Unlicensed day care
4. Building inspection violation…not inspected for occupancy
5. Fire Marshalls Office.
Write a letter to the Director of DCRA, cc your city councilmember and you ANC rep.  Ensure you cc all affected units mentioned above in your letter to the Director…impose a full court press.
Lastly, the building owner is ultimately responsible for what goes on in the building…is there a C of O, and a basic business license for your building?   Better trhgan a letter is a walk to DCRA and visit all units leaving a copy of your letter of concern.

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