Sunday, March 9, 2008
The Washington Post has a lengthy story on a loop-hole in a DC statute that limits the conversion of apartments to condos: if there are no tenants, you don't need their permission to convert.
Here's a taste of the article:
In the past four years, landlords emptied more than 200 buildings from Columbia Heights to Southeast, most of them rent-controlled, thwarting the intent of one of the nation's toughest tenant rights laws with the approval of the city government, a Washington Post investigation found. ...
Nearly three decades ago, city leaders created a law that gave tenants extraordinary power: the right to vote on whether property owners could convert rental buildings into condominiums. The law also requires owners to pay the city a fee on the sale of new condominiums, which would help displaced renters with relocation costs.
But as the District's real estate market thrived, landlords found a way out: The law doesn't apply to vacant buildings.
By emptying buildings and taking advantage of a provision known as a "vacancy exemption," landlords can avoid the tenant vote and the tax and turn rental apartments into condominiums. City officials have granted the exemptions even when government records chronicled widespread evictions and buildings riddled with code violations.