A 66-year-old West End tenant must vacate his home of more than three decades, D.C. Superior Court ruled Wednesday.
The court ruled that the University has the legal authority to evict Scip Barnhart, a former professor who lives on the eighth floor of West End. The case reached the court level after Barnhart claimed GW did not provide sufficient reasoning for his eviction.
The University is clearing non-student tenants from West End, Crawford and Schenley halls to prepare for the creation of a giant residence hall known as the “superdorm.” GW has declined to release the number of tenants plans for construction have forced out of their buildings, because it does not comment on pending litigation.
Barnhart will receive a final eviction notice Sept. 14 from the U.S. Marshals Service, about three months after GW first asked him to move out. If he again dismisses the notice, his belongings will be tossed onto the street.
At the trial, GW’s attorney, Joshua Greenberg, called the case “straight-forward” because the University followed legal procedure for eviction. He said GW was not required to provide reasoning for the eviction, because campus residence halls are exempt from certain rental laws.
Greenberg argued an approval letter for the superdorm project was tacked onto a bulletin board in West End’s lobby behind a glass shield. “Mr. Barnhart certainly had notice,” he said.
Barnhart claimed he never saw the letter and first heard of the new residence hall through a Hatchet article.
Visibly upset outside the courtroom following the trial, Barnhart said he plans to appeal the ruling. But he said he doubts he will be able to find a legal reason to do so.
“It looks like they have an ironclad case, and I didn’t think they’d do this, but they did,” Barnhart said after the trial.
He said the University tried to move him out of West End before he received his eviction letter in June, offering him a room in JBKO that was half the size of his apartment, but for the same $709-a-month controlled rent.
“Here they are throwing me out of a dorm and putting me into another dorm. It doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
When he denied the room in JBKO, the University offered him $25,000 to leave.
Barnhart declined the monetary offer as well. He said now he will likely rent an apartment in the Columbia Plaza complex, located at 2440 Virginia Ave., for $2,000 each month.
“Regrettably, we have been unable to come to an agreement with Mr. Barnhart, despite repeated attempts to provide alternative options,” University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said. “We look forward to a satisfactory resolution of this matter.”