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Fix-It Court Lets Tenants Sue Landlords for Violations

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By Jessica Gould

Whether it's leaky plumbing or peeling paint, tenants have a new option for dealing with housing code violations.

For six years, Tesfaye Lencho struggled with the conditions at his Northwest, D.C. apartment building.

Cockroaches scurried across the countertops.

And criminals walked in and out of the back door.

"Interestingly I ran into a gentleman one time when I came home from work who was eventually apprehended by police and he had a gun and a knife on him," he says.

Things are better now.

But Lencho says tenants shouldn’t have to wait so long for landlords to address code violations.

Superior Court Judge Melvin Wright says they don’t have to.

"We’re calling it fix-it court," he says. "So if you want something fixed and you’re trying to get the landlord to and he hasn’t, you can file a complaint and the court has the authority to compel the landlord, depending on what the facts are, to make the repairs."

Superior Court launched the new Housing Conditions Calendar in May.


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