Hearing Scheduled for January 25 on McDuffie’s Drug-Related Nuisance Abatement Act of 2017

On Thursday, January 25, at 9:30 AM the D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety will hold a hearing on Councilmember McDuffie’s Drug-Related Nuisance Abatement Act of 2017 [B22-0189].

This legislation expands current law to permit civil actions against problem tenants who are complicit in allowing drug, firearm, and prostitution-related activity in their home or place of business. Current law allows action against owners of commercial property, but not their tenants.

This legislation is the direct result of a suggestion made by Ward 5 resident Verna Clayborne at the Ward 5 Emergency Public Safety meeting hosted by Councilmember McDuffie on March 7, 2017. Ms. Clayborne and the Franklin Street Area Neighborhood Association residents live in the Brookland neighborhood, behind a small retail shopping center at Rhode Island Avenue NE, 13th Street NE, and Brentwood Road NE that has been a concern in the community for years. Councilmember McDuffie introduced the legislation on March 21, 2017.

Under current law, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, and community-based organizations may file an action against a commercial property owner to enjoin, abate, or prevent a drug, firearm, and prostitution-related nuisance. However, many times the property owner is cooperative but the tenant is not, and provisions in leasing documents may prevent the owner from taking action. This bill corrects that problem by allowing enforcement against a commercial tenant and also authorizes the Superior Court to impose civil penalties of up to $10,000 against owners and tenants who violate this law.