City to examine off-campus housing

The District Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is working with Georgetown University to keep tabs on landlords who rent out off-campus housing to students.

The pilot program will inspect properties that were not licensed by the District Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to ensure students are living in spaces that maintain compliance with fire, health and safety codes, Helder Gil, a legislative affairs specialist for the agency, said.

Gil said a few years ago a Georgetown University student living in a basement apartment died during a fire. That rental space would have failed its inspection had one occurred because there was no way of exiting.

“We try to encourage students if they’re living off campus to contact us if they think there’s anything wrong or potentially dangerous with their housing situation,” Gil said.

In the spring, he said, the District Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs will review the partnership with Georgetown University to decide whether to expand the pilot program to other colleges in the District.

Landlords who rent out properties must receive a license from the District Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and a subsequent inspection. Properties out of compliance would be slapped with a $2,000 fine, and if issues continued, the agency could tack on more charges.

He said at times, neighbors complain about the conditions of properties rented out to students, ranging from issues of overcrowding to a property generally looking unsafe.

“Landlords have a big role to play in maintaining the quality of life in our historic neighborhoods, and we want to ensure they are doing all they can to meet their responsibility,” Stacy Kerr, assistant vice president for communications at Georgetown University, said.

She said the goal is to hold landlords accountable.

Gil said the school will post lists of licensed landlords on its housing website.

Priya Anand contributed to this report

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.