Going After the 'Slumlords'
D.C. officials are pressing efforts to hold accountable negligent landlords who have allowed their buildings to deteriorate into unlivable conditions. The Post's Debbie Cenziper, an investigative reporter on the Metro staff, and Sarah Cohen, a Post database editor, exposed the citywide problem in a three-part series that ran last week, "Forced Out." The series reported that landlords whose tenants leave can legally turn their buildings into lucrative condominiums without having to comply with D.C. tenant rights laws requiring that renters vote to approve the condo conversions. The law also requires owners to pay a fee on the sale of new condominiums, which is supposed to help displaced tenants find new homes. Cenziper and Cohen found that landlods in the past four years have emptied more than 200 buildings, receiving $328 million in condominium salse while saving $16 million in conversion fees. More than half of the buildings had housing code violations, including lack of heat or electricity, cracked wallls and bug infestations. Interim D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said yesterday he will petition Superior Court next month to appoint a receiver with broad authority to seek fines against problem landlords.
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