How Landlords Use Vacancy Exemptions

As the District's real estate market boomed, landlords emptied more than 200 apartment buildings in the past four years and received "vacancy exemptions" from the city.

Vacant buildings are exempt from a law that gives tenants the right to vote on whether to convert apartments into condominiums. The exemption saves owners tens of thousands of dollars in fees normally imposed on developers.

Although the vacancy exception was originally meant only for long-vacant buildings, most landlords used vacancy exceptions to convert buildings to condominiums. Housing advocates say some landlords let buildings fall into disrepair so tenants would leave.

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