by Prince Of Petworth December 21, 2017 at 2:15 pm 0

Photo by PoPville flickr user Eric P.

“Dear PoPville,

I leased an apartment in a large building last year for $1450 a month. I recently received notice that my rent is increasing to $1495, in accordance with DC rent control procedures. However, the same building is currently advertising units identical to mine for $1275 + one month free rent (so about $1160). I plan to approach management about signing a new lease at this lower rent (I’m month-to-month as of next January) but was wondering if the Popville hive-mind has any thoughts on whether I have any legal basis to insist my rent better reflect market value. Does DC law prohibit rent increases where market value is clearly lower than the current rent? Any thoughts would be appreciated!”

by Prince Of Petworth December 4, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

Photo by PoPville flickr user brunofish

“Dear PoPville,

My property management company Nest unexpectedly announced that they are changing our roommate swap policy. Now every time my group house changes roommates we will forfeit our portion of the security deposit instead of paying a flat $200 change fee. Nest argues that we are expected to come and go as a group, but this runs totally contrary to the group house dynamic in DC. No one who lives in the house even signed the original lease in 2013 — we were all added in addendums. This backdoor fee hike is asking a lot of us and I expect a lot of group houses will break apart before the new policy takes effect. My question to the community is whether there is anything in DC’s tenant law that would protect us from this unwelcome surprise?”

Full policy change announcement letter after the jump. (more…)

by Prince Of Petworth November 20, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

Photo by PoPville flickr user Andrew Pasko-Reader

“Dear PoPville,

I am moving into a 1-bedroom apartment next month. When I visited the apartment this summer I was told all utilities are included. When I received my lease, I found out no utilities are included. Plus, I will be billed for water, sewer, trash, and “central boiler”. Water and sewer bills will be billed based on sub meters. (I called DC Water, the building is not sub metered.) Trash and “central boiler” will be billed based on apartment SF and number of occupants. How common is it in DC for buildings to bill separately for water, sewer, trash, and “central boiler”? Is it legal to bill for water and sewer, if units are not sub metered?

FWIW, there are about 200 1- and 2- bedroom units in the circa mid-1980s building. I have asked for an estimate monthly billing for these four utilities.”

by Prince Of Petworth October 13, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

Photo by PoPville flickr user Olaf Zerbock

“Dear PoPville,

We’ve recently moved out of a rental unit in a Columbie Heights row home. We’ve been just shy of harassing our property management company to respond to our inquires regarding the status of our security deposit. Our Property Manager has not responded to us in over a month and if he does not follow up within next few days we are conferring legal action. I’ve been looking up statutes and it looks like if he fails to notify or pay us within 45 days we can demand release of the entire amount of the security deposit, according to DC regulations. Here’s the relevant rule: (more…)

by Prince Of Petworth July 25, 2017 at 12:25 pm 0

Photo by PoPville flickr user James Crane

“Dear PoPville,

I was wondering if anyone knew if a landlord can charge you for cleaning/maintenance fees after you’ve moved out if they weren’t stipulated in your lease or move-out letter. I paid $250 to move into a building back in 2012 and recently moved out due to the horrible management (this is not an isolated incident; long-time tenants of my building are moving out in droves) but was never required to pay a security deposit. This new management company (Alvin L. Aubinoe – run!) is the third one to take over since I moved in, and the fourth overall. When I asked for a copy of the move-out policy (at least three times) the property manager didn’t provide it. After never receiving anything and securing a new place, I submitted my 30-day notice and received an acknowledgment letter. The letter outlined the basics – return your keys, don’t leave anything in the apartment, clean the fridge and stove. I did all of these things, returned the keys, and never heard anything for over a month.

Over the weekend I received a letter from my ex-landlord with photos of my stove and freezer, and a broken kitchen cabinet latch that had been broken for a LONG time, along with a bill for $400 (a $300 cleaning fee and $100 for the broken latch).I had asked previous management companies to fix it to no avail, and the new company had done three inspections in the past six months (including one for “improvements”) but didn’t fix it. I was present during all of these inspections and they saw it, and acknowledged it – but never did anything to fix it. I also don’t believe wiping down a freezer and oven (not stove) would cost $300 and if so, shouldn’t they have mentioned that in my move-out letter?

My partner and I went above and beyond to clean the apartment, including abating the mold in the bathroom ourselves – something they ignored for some time.

While I am not against paying reasonable, and warranted, fees, I believe if I am not contractually obligated to under my lease, they should have at minimum provided me with this potential fee in writing.

This rental company has been a horror to work with, and my building went downhill FAST since they took over in October 2016. Packages were stolen, the property manager screamed at my partner on the phone after he asked a simple question, and she ignored my emails and shrugged off my requests. (more…)

by Prince Of Petworth May 18, 2017 at 1:15 pm 30 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Erin

“Dear PoPville,

Is there a recourse when your landlord keeps your deposit?

Background: We’re a professional couple in our mid forties who’ve rented a Mt Pleasant row house for three years. We’ve treated it like our own, have made small upgrades (with the permission of the landlord) and have had no incidents during our time here.

Now that we’ve finished our lease to move back overseas, the landlord has kept half of our deposit (and this is Mt Pleasant, so that’s a lot). She’s given no explaination other than this is for repainting and cleaning.

We had the house deep cleaned before we left. There is no structural or cosmetic damage to the house other than what would constitute normal wear and tear (we have no kids, no pets and frankly the house is in better shape than when we rented it). But as all this is subjective. Do we have any avenues to challenge her to get our deposit back?”

by Prince Of Petworth March 29, 2017 at 1:30 pm 55 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Jim Havard

“I live in a group house and my landlord is renewing the one-year leases for all of our roommates with the exception of one because he wants his friend to move into her room. She hasn’t violated any house rules so there’s no retaliatory action involved. Does he have the right to refuse her lease renewal?”

You can see all forum topics and add your own here. If you are having trouble uploading your question please email me at princeofpetworth(at)gmail Please Note this is NOT an events calendar.

by Prince Of Petworth March 20, 2017 at 1:30 pm 59 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user brunofish

“I understand that in general with joint several liability in a group house lease agreement, the landlord can hold any or all of the tenants responsible for unpaid rent.

In our current situation, 3 of us are moving out of a 4-bedroom house, leaving the 4th responsible for filling the rooms. We’ve been helping to fill the rooms, but it looks like some may not get filled with viable tenants by the end of the month. The landlord already said he’d be holding the remaining tenant responsible if that’s the case. Is there any recourse here?

Everything I read about joint and several liability deals with cases of other tenants not paying rent, not cases of multiple roommates who’d been on a month-to-month basis leaving. It just seems unreasonable to expect someone to be responsible for filling 3 rooms regardless of circumstances. Any help would be appreciated.”

You can see all forum topics and add your own here. If you are having trouble uploading your question please email me at princeofpetworth(at)gmail Please Note this is NOT an events calendar.

by Prince Of Petworth March 14, 2017 at 3:00 pm 32 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user LaTur

“Dear PoPville,

I wonder if anyone in the community has had a similar experience to advise on a situation I have encountered as a tenant. We lease a row house to a property management company that oversees our space (in addition to others) owned by a landlord living outside the country. We have been living here for about 2 years and have never been directly billed for our water use. The first several months of our residence we were continually receiving bills and delinquent payment notices addressed to homeowner, some of which included DC Water. After notifying the property manager several times, including expressively inquiring the status of the DC Water account, we were assured that it would be taken care of.

Our lease states that we are responsible for ‘individually metered’ water utility charges but the bills have since sopped arriving in our post box. However, we’ve just received a call from the property manager that the landlord has (only now) realized that he has had the water account setup to automatically debit the full bill amount from his personal credit card/bank account each month and has unknowingly paid for our collective water usage for over 24 months. (more…)

by Prince Of Petworth December 28, 2016 at 1:25 pm 28 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Shamila Chaudhary

“Hi there! I’m really hoping for some advice. I recently moved into a new apartment. I was living with a roommate in another apartment previously and we were both on the same month-to-month lease. In terms of moving out, I did everything I needed to: I informed my roommate months in advance, I gave 30 days notice to building management, ensured the rent was paid through my notice period, moved out at the end of the period, and left the keys. The remaining roommate had already identified a friend to move in (J). The landlord decided that he wanted to shift to a brand new, year long lease with J and the old remaining roommate. J applied for this lease and was approved. We all signed and executed the roommate addendum, which stated his official move-in date as December 1. Management said the next step was receiving his security deposit and fees, at which point I would have my deposit refunded to me.

However, just today I discovered that this hasn’t happened. (more…)


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