On November 1, 2016 the D.C. Council of Washington, DC unanimously passed a measure that was first introduced by At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman and co-sponsored by nine of her colleagues in December of 2015. It seeks higher property tax rates (5 and 10 percent more than standard) for those determined to be vacant and blighted.
The higher rate will continue until owners prove to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs that they’ve made the necessary improvements.
Current law requires that DCRA verify that buildings are vacant or blighted every six months, even when an owner has not indicated that they’ve made improvements. This has led to inconsistent enforcement of property laws and consumed inspectors’ time.
Note from Storm: The District of Columbia has thus done what thousands of other cities should do if they’re serious about revitalization: make it harder for property owners to neglect their assets.
Too many landlords buy or hang onto cheap, blighted properties and put no money into them, in the hope that neighborhood revitalization will eventually boost their value, so they can turn a profit. Of course, this makes that very revitalization less likely.
Photo of building near Anacostia waterfront by Storm Cunningham