DC landlord accused of ‘inhumane’ living conditions, settles lawsuits

A D.C. landlord is being forced to pay $1.1 million in rent payments to former residents whose homes were plagued by pests, mold and raw sewage and violated housing and fire codes.

The payments will go to 155 tenants of three complexes located at 1309 Alabama Avenue NE, 315 and 325 Franklin Street NE and 4951 G Street SE.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said tenants had to put up with “shocking abuses.” Many residents didn’t have heat in the winter and some didn’t have working toilets, stoves or refrigerators. There were sewage backups, rat and insect infestations, and smoke detectors often didn’t work or were nonexistent.

Racine’s office had sued Sanford Capital LLC, the Bethesda, Maryland-based company for violating consumer protection laws.

The joint settlement agreement with the landlord also requires the company to pay the city a penalty and continue to sell off its properties in the District — something it was required to do under a previous settlement.

“I am pleased that this settlement will provide long-overdue monetary relief to vulnerable residents who were forced to endure inhumane living conditions,” said Racine. “Today’s settlement sends a message to slumlords that business practices that put profit ahead of the safety and well-being of their tenants will not be tolerated in the District.”

The settlement is the biggest-ever recovery of rent from a city landlord by the D.C. Attorney General’s Office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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