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    D.C. Government To Step Into Messy Condo Dispute

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    Renee Sampson points out peeling paint underneath a stairwell at their condo building in Southeast D.C.
    David Schultz
    Renee Sampson points out peeling paint underneath a stairwell at their condo building in Southeast D.C.

    By David Schultz

    There's no heating in Monique Townes' Southeast D.C. condo building. For 10 days, it didn't have hot water. And the trash collection stopped months ago.

    "So the trash is open and all you see is just bags of trash sitting there," Townes says. "On a warm day, there's an aroma of trash."

    The property manager here is Charles Jenkins, a Virginia-based developer who recently declared bankruptcy. He converted this building into condos three years ago but could sell only half the units.

    Ward Seven Councilwoman Yvette Alexander calls Jenkins a slumlord and wants the city to take legal action.

    But Jenkins says he can't afford to make repairs. His residents stopped paying their condo dues.

    "I've been short on money or whatever out there," Jenkins says. "But it wouldn't have been [that way] if they had paid their condo dues."

    The condo owners say they stopped paying dues only after Jenkins stopped responding to their complaints.

    For his part, Jenkins says he has done no criminal wrongdoing.

    Nick Majett, with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, says Jenkins might be right. Slumlord-laws only apply to apartments.

    "If you have a tenant," Majett says, "You have to provide heat to the tenant. If you're owner occupied you don't have to have any heat."

    Even if the city doesn't get involved, Jenkins will still have to appear in court. Several of the condo owners are suing him for fraud.

    NPR

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