Earlier this week, Proskauer and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of tenants of the Meridian Heights apartment building (“Meridian Heights” or the “Property”), against the owner and associated property managers for their failure to maintain the Property in habitable condition. Meridian Heights is home to a mostly Spanish-speaking community of working-class tenants located in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of the District of Columbia.
As detailed in the complaint, the property owner and managers have repeatedly and systematically refused to make necessary repairs to the apartments and common spaces of the Property, despite repeated requests from tenants. As a result, the Property is riddled with deficiencies, including
- significant infestations of rodents, cockroaches, and bedbugs;
- excessive mold on the walls and ceilings caused by, among other things, interior dampness and inadequate ventilation in apartment units;
- lack of heat in winter months and air conditioning in summer months;
- no hot water for significant periods of time;
- persistent plumbing problems and leaks;
- improperly sealed doors and windows that allow water, cold air in the winter, hot air in the summer, and insects to enter the apartment;
- significant structural issues, including holes in walls, doors that will not properly close and broken floor boards;
- broken and unusable major appliances;
- broken and dangerous electrical outlets; and
- an accumulation of garbage that aggravates many of the issues set out above and allows a stench to permeate the Property.
The harms that tenants of Meridian Heights have experienced as a result of these conditions were only exacerbated by the COVID-19 global pandemic, which forced tenants and their children to spend the majority of the day in their apartments.
Moreover, as detailed in the complaint, the property owner and managers have also interfered with the tenants’ ability to address the conditions at Meridian Heights through the tenant association, including calling the police when tenants acted collectively to protest the dire conditions at Meridian Heights.
The complaint alleges that the conduct of the property owner and managers violate tenants’ lease agreements, implied warranties of habitability and quiet enjoyment, the D.C. housing code, the D.C. Consumer Procedures Protection Act, and the D.C. Right of Tenants to Organize Act of 2006.
The complaint seeks damages and injunctive and declaratory relief, requesting, among other things, immediate repairs so that tenants can reside in their homes without jeopardizing their health, safety, and welfare, as well as that of their minor children. Landlords and property owners must be held accountable for their conduct, and their continuous dismissal of tenants’ concerns and complaints and blatant violations of D.C. laws.