Washington, DC

“Dear PoPville,

I live in a building on 16th Street, NW. I’ve lived here for the past two years in a studio apartment on the first floor. During my time here, I’ve realized that the landlords are slumlords of a truly spectacular caliber. There are serious problems with many tenants in this building who treat the entire building and surrounding grounds as their personal property, with no concern whatsoever for the general comfort, well-being, or cleanliness of the shared spaces. This is a large building (8 stories) with numerous units, and the management is well aware of these people who do, among other things, the following:

-Drunkenly loitering every single night in large groups outside the entrance to the building, harassing other tenants who are trying to enter or exit.
-Openly drinking and smoking weed and cigarettes in public areas inside and outside the building, including in the lobby, hallways, stairwells, etc.
-Throwing said detritus of smoking and drinking all over the place both inside and outside the building
-Pissing openly outside and inside the building including stairwells and hallways
-Allowing animals to urinate and defecate inside the building in the lobby, hallways, etc. without cleaning it up.
-I found actual human shit in the hallway outside my door one morning when I was leaving to go to work.

I have thought, on numerous occasions, to go to the DC tenant advocate office about this, but I don’t know if all of these collective behaviors constitute an actual actionable offense that could be dealt with by that office. Clearly there is a large contingent of people here who are breaking the terms of their leases (since I assume they signed the same lease as me, and they are clearly in violation thereof). I obviously cannot document every single incident of people making these violations. But my understanding is that the tenant advocate office deals with tenant v.s landlord legal disputes, not just the general livability of a place.

If I take the time to go to the tenant advocacy office, will someone actually hear my case? Or does it have to be a direct violation of DC tenant law related to a tenant vs. landlord dispute? If they won’t hear my case, then who will?

This building is a pestilential nightmare, yet I know a lot of good people who live here. I’d like to force the hand of the landlord, but I need to know how exactly I could do that. Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated!”

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