What is the Proactive Inspections program?
The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) proactive inspections program is designed to inspect all multi-unit rental properties in the District of Columbia. Until now, all residential building-wide inspections were completed only after receiving a series of complaints from tenants. Now all 4,300 multi-family (3 plus units) rental properties in the District of Columbia will be inspected.
Why do we need to be inspected?
While a majority of property owners take good care of their property and provide safe environment for their tenants, there numerous examples of properties where dangerous and unhealthy conditions exist. Our goal is to identify and correct these issues in their early stages. Many buildings we are called to for dangerous conditions went unreported for years and this program will allow us to prevent these cases.
What exactly are the proactive fees?
The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs charges all residential rental properties a $35.00 per unit fee up to a $2,000.00 maximum for the Proactive Inspections program. The fee funds the cost of inspecting each residential property.
The program is designed to ensure all rental units in the District of Columbia meets residential property maintenance and building codes.
The fees were established in 2009, effective March 3, 2010:
14 DCMR 220, as amended by FY2010 BSA (Budget Support Act).
LICENSE AND USER FEES
220.1 The Mayor shall institute the following fees:
(a) A license fee for one (1) or two (2) unit properties of seven dollars ($7.00) base fee plus twenty eight dollars ($28.00) per unit;
(b) A reinspection fee for routine housing inspections of ninety dollars ($90.00) per reinspection;
(c) A fee to cover the administrative costs of the fund established by D.C. Official Code § 42-3231.01(b)(1)(A); of one hundred seventy-fives ($175.00) base fee and thirty dollars ($30.00) for each additional hour; and
(d) A fee to cover proactive inspection costs of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs of thirty-five ($35) per unit on rental accommodations of three (3) unit or more shall be charged biennially. The fee shall be deposited in the fund established by D.C. Official Code § 42-3131.01(b)(1)(A).
SOURCE: Section 501(a) of Omnibus Budget Support Act of 1994, D.C. Law 10-128, incorporating by reference the text of D.C. Act 10-225, 41 DCR 2096, 2109 (April 22, 1994); as amended by Final Rulemaking as published at 51 DCR 6835 (July 9, 2004); as amended by the Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Support Act of 2009, effective March 3, 2010 (D.C. Law 18-111), at 57 DCR 181, 217 (January 8, 2010).
Does this program replace the normal inspection process?
No. The proactive inspections program will not replace the current complaint-based system or emergency building-wide inspection program and encourages people to continue to request inspections by calling 311, online at www.dcra.dc.gov, or by emailing email@example.com.
How do these inspections work?
Once we select a building for a proactive inspection, we mail the property owner or management company a notice at least 21 days before the scheduled inspection date.
The property owner or manager then contacted the DCRA Inspections Division to either confirm the date or identify a new date and time.
Once a date was confirmed, DCRA posted a notice – written in English and Spanish – in the common areas and under tenants’ doors advising of the date and time of the inspection. We also post on the DCRA website – dcra.dc.gov – and share with housing advocates a list of the buildings scheduled for inspections for the current and next month.
We gave property owners a set number of units that we wanted to inspect, based on the buildings total number of units according to the following schedule: Up to 4 units, we inspect 50 percent of the units at the property are scheduled to be inspected; 5 to 49 units, we inspect 30 percent; and 50 units and above – 15 percent.
After the posting of the notice, tenants were advised that they could contact DCRA to request their unit be inspected. And, during the actual proactive inspection, DCRA inspectors always have with them extra tenant consent forms in case any additional tenants want their own housing units inspected.
The consent forms are printed in English, Spanish, Amharic, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.
After conducting the inspection, we sent a notice to the property owner or manager detailing any building or housing code violations. We then scheduled a reinspection to ensure the owner or manager had corrected all identified violations.
Property owners or managers that successfully abated all violations were then issued a certificate of compliance.
Legal Provisions Establishing and Supporting the Proactive Program
DCMR 14 Housing
Chapter: 14-2 Housing Business Licenses
Section: 14-201 Inspection Of Premises
201.1 The Fire Chief and the Directors of the District agencies responsible for enforcement of the housing and health regulations shall inspect every licensed housing business and any premises for which a housing business license application has been filed with the District, and the Chief of Police shall inspect every licensed housing business in accordance with the provisions of this section.
201.2 The Director of the applicable agency shall determine conformity with the applicable provisions of the license laws and regulations, and shall require that the building or part of the building to be licensed complies with the applicable provisions of the laws and regulations enforced by him or her relating to buildings and appurtenances.
201.3 The Director of the agency responsible for enforcement of public health regulations shall require that the premises comply with the applicable provisions of the laws and regulations enforced by him or her relating to public health.
201.4 The Fire Chief shall require that the premises comply with the applicable provisions of the laws and regulations enforced by him or her relating to fire prevention and control.
201.5 The Chief of Police shall require that the operator comply with the applicable provisions of the laws and regulations enforced by him or her relating to the operation of housing businesses.
201.6 The Director of the District agency responsible for enforcement of the housing regulations shall report to the Director of the agency responsible for enforcement of the health regulations the presence of peeling, chipping, flaking, or loose paint observed or lead hazards identified during a routine inspection, on the interior or exterior surface of any housing built before 1978, where a child under 8 years of age resides or is a regular visitor, or is expected to reside or be a regular visitor.
SOURCE: The Housing Regulations of the District of Columbia, 5G DCRR § 3103, Commissioners’ Order 55-1503 (August 11, 1955); as amended by: D.C. Act 14-438 (emergency) at 49 DCR 7676 (August 9, 2002) [EXPIRED]; as amended by: D.C. Act 15-411 (emergency) at 51 DCR 4677 (May 7, 2004) [EXPIRED]; as amended by: D.C. Act 15-430 (emergency) at 51 DCR 5718 (June 4, 2004) [EXPIRED]; as amended by: D.C. Act 15-468 (emergency) at 51 DCR 7587 (August 6, 2004) [EXPIRED]; as amended by: D.C. Act 15-769 at 52 DCR 2627 (March 18, 2005).
DCMR 12G Property Maintenance Code Supplement
Construction Codes Supplement Of 2008
Chapter 1G Administration And Enforcement
SECTION PM-101G GENERAL
PM-101.1 Title. The D.C. Property Maintenance Code (2008), hereinafter referred to as the “Property Maintenance Code,” shall consist of the International Property Maintenance Code (2006), as amended by the D.C. Property Maintenance Code Supplement (2008) (DCMR 12G).
SECTION PM-104G DUTIES AND POWERS OF THE CODE OFFICIAL
PM-104.4 Right of Entry. The code official is authorized to enter a structure or premise at all reasonable times to inspect and for the purpose of enforcing the Property Maintenance Code, subject to constitutional restrictions on unreasonable searches and seizures, and subject to the provisions of this Section. If entry is refused or not obtained, the code official is authorized to obtain an administrative search warrant or to pursue any other recourse as provided by law.
PM-104.4.1 Right of Entry – Housing Business License Property. The code official, both prior to the issuance of a housing business license and during the license period, may, at all reasonable hours, enter and inspect the premises occupied or to be occupied by a housing business except as provided in Section 104.4.2