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“Are there cases where a community group has successfully sued a landlord for a nuisance property?”

“Dear PoPville,

There’s an little known DC Code section that allows community groups to file lawsuits against properties that are being used to sell, store or manufacture illegal drugs; that are being used to unlawfully store or sell guns; or that are being used to facilitate prostitution.

Some residents in Truxton Circle have a pretty dire and threatening situation going on with a tenant on a block and we’re considering all options. Over the past 24 months, the residents and/or guests of this household have dealt drugs, brandished firearms, threatened other residents, destroyed property, spray-painted security cameras, and generally created an unlivable situation in the immediate area of the property.

There are witnesses and documentation to prove the above. Unlivable isn’t an overstatement–at least nine homeowners or tenants have abandoned (sold to some other poor souls) their properties in the last year and a half. In one case a woman who lived nearby has simply abandoned her house and is living with a friend. She can’t rent it and she’s afraid to return to the block. The landlord doesn’t care and has stopped responding to requests for reasonable solutions to this issue. Making matters worse, the city’s moratorium on evictions closes that off as a remedy (at least for now). No one wants to see a family put out on the street, but the residents of this property have been so awful and so unwilling to behave with the slightest amount of mutual respect that we, as a community, can identify no other options.

And yes, before anyone comments, we’ve tried engaging with the residents, the landlord and call 911 whenever things get really dangerous.

Question for the community: does anyone have experience with the law above? Are there cases where a community group has successfully sued a landlord for a nuisance property? Would love experience, advice, and also fully expect everything else that comes with the post.”

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