Wednesday, July 4, 2007

DCRA Pledges to Inspect and Catalog All Vacant Buildings by Ocober 31

Vacant properties are never good for a neighborhood. Often, they are not properly maintained, are a visual blight, and provide a venue for drugs and other illicit activity. In order to deter property vacancies, D.C. law requires that such property owners register their properties, which are subject to a far higher tax rate.

However, as D.C. residents have discovered in recent weeks, the District has not effectively enforced the registration of properties and the higher tax rate. Some properties even receive the homestead deduction, which is available only to owners who live on site.

An article in today's Washington Times reports that one advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 6 discovered that only 15 percent of vacant houses in his neighborhood are paying the higher tax rate.

According to the article, Linda K. Argo, the acting director of the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), has pledged that DCRA officials "will inspect all vacant buildings in the District by Oct. 31 to create a comprehensive and transparent database." I welcome any residents in our neighborhood who wish to join me in gathering a list of vacant properties to assist the DCRA with its cataloging efforts.

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