D.C.’s Attorney General Karl Racine sued the owners and operators of more than 800+ apartment units in Ward 7 and 8 for forcing hundreds of tenants to live in horrific conditions that threaten their health and safety.

The AG announced yesterday (10/17), multiple lawsuits against the owners and managers of six residential apartment buildings alleging that the owners have exposed their tenants to severe vermin infestations, water damage and mold, and a lack of fire safety systems.

The AG also alleges that owners at some of the properties did not put in place basic security measures to keep residents safe, leading to persistent gun violence.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

At one apartment complex in Southeast D.C. being sued by the AG — the Metropolitan Police Department responded to more than 200 incidents related to drug or firearm activity from January 2017 to July 2018.

The Office of the Attorney General said that despite several notices, Castle Management failed to make necessary security improvements, including increasing security staffing, securing building entrances, maintaining security cameras and adequate lighting.

Racine is seeking monetary and injunctive relief for harmed tenants and seeks to ensure the owners make necessary building repairs and security improvements.

“Vulnerable residents have been forced to live in horrific conditions at the hands of neglectful building owners,” Racine said.

“These particular landlords have shown a callous disregard for the health and safety of their tenants, and that is unacceptable under District law. Most landlords follow the law, but when we see evidence of neglect, we will take legal action to protect our residents.”

The lawsuit consists of owners of six multi-unit apartment buildings including Mehrdad Valibeigi ( “Mike Valley”), the owner and manager of three apartment buildings with 35 units total in Ward 7.

According to the complaint, Valibeigi collected rent but failed to maintain the buildings or make necessary repairs. The AG stated that tenants at all three buildings suffer from terrible conditions throughout, which violates the District’s housing and fire codes.

Valibeigi will be sued under the District’s Tenant Receivership Act, the Drug-, Firearm-, or Prostitution-Related Nuisance Abatement Act, and for violations of the Consumer Protection Procedures Act.

The lawsuits seek to compel the owners to maintain their buildings, make repairs required by District law, and take necessary security measures to protect residents from gun violence and drug-related crime.