Door-to-door inspections in Georgetown, Burleith hope to get all GU student homes up to standard
The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) has begun door-to-door inspections in both West Georgetown and Burleith to make sure townhouses are keeping to D.C. Housing Code. Both university-owned and off-campus houses will be subject to inspection by DCRA officials.
Inspections will take place through the end of the summer. Some properties may be inspected in the fall. A resident or a third party, such as a designated member of the Georgetown Student Tenant Association or Office of Neighborhood Life, must be present for the inspection to take place, according to Will Simons (COL ‘16), GUSA director of communications.
The properties being inspected are those without a Basic Business License (BBL), the necessary documentation for a property to be rented, according to Cory Peterson, Director of the Office of Neighborhood Life. A BBL is not required to rent out a property, according to Ryan Shymansky (COL ‘16), director of GUSA’s Student Advocacy Office, and even properties that have received the BBL may not have been inspected for years since their initial inspections.
“BBL inspections are an important way to make student rental properties safe and habitable, and ensure they meet the minimum safety standards DC law requires,” Peterson wrote in an email to Vox. “It is particularly important for students to know landlords cannot punish tenants for allowing inspectors into a home.”
Inspectors will be looking at the general condition of the houses and making sure they are keeping with D.C. code.
“Inspections are meant to ensure that rented houses are safe, and to that end there are about a thousand very specific housing code standards that landlords need to live up to,” Director of GUSA’s Student Advocacy Office Ryan Shamansky (COL ‘16), wrote in an email to the Voice.
Mary Hanley, a member of the Georgetown Student Tenant Association, said that inspections are usually short and do not disrupt the residents.
The university has been working with the Georgetown Community Partnership and DCRA since Jan. 2014 to begin the inspection process. According to Peterson, the Georgetown Student Tenant Association and the Georgetown Community Partnership sent a letter to DCRA in May requesting that they finish the inspections. Shymansky cited “typical bureaucratic inertia” as to why the inspections have not fully begun until recently.
While the inspections have been planned and delayed for a year and are not directly linked to the fire, Shamansky wrote that a tragedy like the one in DuPont can be a catalyst for advancing with the inspections.
“The reality is that quite a few houses in Georgetown fall short of this standard. Increased student safety is the clearest benefit of these inspections,” Shamansky wrote. “Though ensuring that your house has a working fire alarm system shouldn’t even be an issue, for example, it consistently is.”