Thursday, October 2, 2008

Note from DCRA

[I received this some time ago, Aug 14, and missed posting it.-Ed.]

To Ed,

The D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) launched an aggressive campaign in 2007 to identify all vacant properties in the District and to encourage property owners to return their properties to a good and productive use.

As with any new initiative, there were some bumps in the road.

With the new tax bills hitting property owner’s mailboxes tomorrow, we want to assure you that new quality control measures have been implemented to avoid the same issues that property owners lamented about this past spring.

We have revamped the DCRA Web site to include answers to important and frequently asked questions, an updated list of properties classified as vacant and more accessible information on how to contact us to request an exemption and/or corrections.

You can be assured that it was not our intent to cause undue stress for property owners.

DCRA is working closely with property owners to ensure compliance with the District’s vacant property registration law and to correct any errors that have been made. Property owners who feel their property was incorrectly classified as vacant and recently received a tax bill at the vacant tax rate are encouraged to contact DCRA immediately at (202) 442-4332.

Additional information, vacant property registration forms and the appeal process are available online at under “Vacant Property.”

We hope that you’ll help us communicate this information to your readers. Call me at anytime to chat. We would love to have your support in our efforts.

Michael Rupert
Public Information Officer
Office of the Director

Dept. of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
941 North Capitol Street, NE Suite 9500
Washington, DC 20002

Office: (202) 442-4513
Mobile: (202) 437-1024

Fax: (202) 442-9445


Anonymous said...

FWIW, my property was determined to be vacant as a result of being unoccupied during (permitted) renovations. It is now occupied.

Although it was quite annoying to have to go down to DCRA, wait an hour, and then show the permit and utility bills to prove it was either exempt or lived in, to DCRA's credit I received an exemption letter within 2 days.

Zachary K said...

This blog drew a lot of attention, and I am very aware of the anecdotes propagating the internet about nuisance properties that plague DC neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, the anecdotes which form the counterpoint are lost. What about the bankrupted one-time entrepreneur, who ran into troubles with his first project when he tried to get building permits, and then was hit with the vacant property tax and lost all the equity in his project before he could decide to fight it?

I have been working against the 5% and 10% tax for the last two years, and have encountered several people who were materially affected by the extremely long exemption process. Most pople do not find out about their reclassification until they get the new tax bill. With 30 days to pay that bill, at the risk of defaulting on their mortgage loans, people will borrow and beg to pay off the bill, and spend months trying to convince the city to give it back.

There is a public hearing in four days about the new blighted vacant property tax. Read about it here: