D.C. housing officials yesterday ordered owners of four apartment complexes to make no further attempts to evict tenants as a prelude to converting the buildings into cooperatives or condominiums.

District housing director Robert L. Moore charged that the owners are attempting to violate the District's moratorium on such conversions, and said his office will mail letters to tenants of the buildings advising them that they have the right to stay put.

"There is a moratorium, and this is a blatant challenge to that moratorium," Moore said, adding that the city's Rental Accommodations Office may seek to impose fines of up to $5,000 per unit on the landlords.

The largest apartment complex involved is Van Ness Center at 3003 and 2939 Van Ness St. NW. The complex, containing 1,058 units, is owned by Van Ness Properties, though a contract to purchase the complex for $60 million has been signed by a real estate firm controlled by developer Conrad Cafritz.

Moore said the other buildings involved are Town Center Plaza West, 1006 and 11100 Sixth St. NW, owned by Bresler and Reiner, Inc.; Windsor House, 1444 Rhode Island Ave NW, owned by Jon D. Utley, and Connecticut House, 4500 Connecticut Ave. NW, owned by Connecticut House Associates.

Moore said tenants in those buildings all have been told by their landlords that the apartments will be converted soon into cooperatives and condominums, and said the notices amounted to eviction notices.

"This has a chilling effect on the tenant," Moore said. He said that even though the moratorium "clearly" prohibits actual conversion, the sending of the notices alone could drive tenants out.

The Rental Accommodations Office yesterday issued a restraining order invalidating the notices sent out by building owners and warning of possible further action.