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Forced Out

An Investigation Into Casualties of the District's Real Estate Boom

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About This Series

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Saturday, March 8, 2008; 10:00 PM

The Washington Post compiled information from D.C. government files, a database of 128,000 housing code complaints and property assessor's records to identify and analyze the 201 apartment buildings that received "vacancy exemptions" since 2004. The exemptions allow landlords to convert to condominiums without a vote by tenants and without paying a 5 percent conversion fee charged by the city.

Some of the information came from records that have historically been plagued by inaccuracies. Where possible, the Post verified the records reviewing case files, deeds and other documents.

Key Findings

• Landlords have emptied more than 200 apartment buildings in the District in the past four years and asked the city for permission to convert them to condominiums, sidestepping a law requiring tenant approval and avoiding millions of dollars in conversion fees.

• City inspectors found more than 3 000 code infractions at more than half the buildings, including a lack of heat and water.

• Some landlords sent threatening letters, while others evicted tenants with false claims, then moved to convert to condominiums once tenants were gone.

• The city's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has overlooked bad conditions in many cases, then granted permission to the landlords to turn rent-controlled apartments into condominiums.

• The landlords have sold more than 1,200 new condominiums, bringing in more than $320 million and avoiding $16 million in city fees.

More Information

To file a housing complaint on DCRA's website, click here.

To complain about housing conditions, call (202) 442-4477.

To request information about complaints and violations for your building, click here.

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