Comprehensive DCRA Reform Bill Brings Accountability and Transparency to Residential Housing and Construction
Nadeau introduces bill to increase inspectors, improve safety, give homeowners and renters more power, license contractors
WASHINGTON – Today, Ward 1 D.C. Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau introduced a comprehensive bill to reform the District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs by making it more accountable to residents and its decisions more transparent. The Tenant and Homeowner Accountability and Protection Amendment Act of 2019 was co-introduced by Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Anita Bonds and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Elissa Silverman, Jack Evans and Chairman Phil Mendelson. It was referred to the Committee of the Whole.
“This is a comprehensive bill to make DCRA more transparent and accountable to the people it serves,” said Councilmember Nadeau. “We are a growing city, with new residents, new construction and new renovations. Housing is currently being built without the oversight and enforcement our residents deserve. No matter if you own or rent, you should trust that your housing is safe, and that enforcement of our rules is consistent and transparent.”
Highlights of the bill include:
- For the first time, the bill establishes standards for licensing contractors in the District. Those standards are created and enforced by a 5-person panel that has the power to refer violations to the Attorney General.
- The bill increases the number of housing inspectors by requiring one for every 2,000 occupied residential housing units. It requires that notices of violations are shared with tenants in addition to landlords. If there is a pattern of violations, those cases can be referred to the Attorney General.
- If adjacent construction damages your building, the bill makes it easier for homeowners to claim insurance damages by tightening insurance requirements for contractors and allowing adjacent homeowners to submit insurance claims directly to the contractor’s insurance company.
- The bill creates a new Zoning and Code Ombudsman to provide advocacy services for District residents seeking permits, zoning relief, review of issued permits or the enforcement of code or zoning violations.
- The bill requires landlords to maintain a valid and updated basic business license to evict tenants or increase the rent, which will help poorly regulated rentals come out of the shadows, and ensure tenants know who to reach when issues arise in their building.
- Other provisions expand environmental testing for mold, mildew and radon; require documents related to zoning decisions to be posted online and shared with ANCs within 48 hours; and allow the Office of Attorney General to represent residents in appeals before the Board of Zoning Adjustment.
A copy of the full bill and a complete one pager is available below.
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