DC landlords, property managers ordered to pay, reach settlements over living conditions, eviction threats

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced a series of settlements connected to unsanitary, dangerous living conditions and evictions during the pandemic at certain buildings across the District.

Racine’s office highlighted the biggest case of all, which revolved around a landlord who was sued almost three years ago.

Thomas K. Stephenson, who owns two rent-controlled buildings in Northeast, was accused in June 2018 of forcing tenants to live with rodents, roaches, bedbugs and inconsistent heat and hot water

According to the D.C. Attorney General’s Office, the buildings at 711 and 719 49th St. NE in the Deanwood neighborhood also had water leaks, mold and fire code violations.

Racine said Stephenson was ordered to pay more than $624,000 in restitution to affected tenants, along with penalties and other expenses to the District.

“The majority of landlords and property managers follow the law and treat tenants fairly,” Racine said in a news release. “Those that do not, however, will be held accountable by the Office of the Attorney General.”

Two other landlords came to terms with the District.

Racine’s office said the owners of 1828 Q St. in the Fairlawn section of Southeast were accused  of security issues at the building. They agreed to address rampant gun violence on the property.

The agreement mandates that all building entrances be secured within 21 days, a comprehensive security plan, maintenance and must pay $3,000 in penalties to the District or else face higher monetary fines.

Racine also said property management firm Lenkin will pay more than $17,000 to D.C. for threatening to evict tenants at Ward 1’s Yorkshire Apartments during the pandemic.

Racine’s office said Lenkin issued 23 notices threatening tenants with eviction if they failed to pay back rent or agree to a payment plan in 30 days.

It’s currently illegal for property managers to toss tenants over past due rent during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

“Standing up for vulnerable tenants is and will continue to be a priority for our office,” Racine said. “This is especially so when landlords and property managers fail to provide basic services that endanger the health and safety of District residents.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify that management firm Lenkin threatened tenants with eviction, but no tenants were removed during the pandemic. Also, Stephenson did not come to terms with the District, but was ordered to pay restitution. 

Ken Duffy

Ken Duffy is a reporter and anchor at WTOP with more than 20 years of experience. He has reported from major events like the 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, 2016 Election Night at Trump Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami.

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