I'm not sure where to begin with this. In case you haven't heard, there's a "scandal" going around about how Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is living in a basement apartment that doesn't have a proper Certificate of Occupancy. This little factoid was apparently discovered by a private investigator, who did a quick search of DCRA records. Which, by the way, you can do yourself!
Now, the first reaction views this as a political issue, saying "if this is the worst you can find on this guy..." so on and so forth. The other reaction that I have seen is one of disregard for having a proper C of O for a basement apartment. I've seen a lot of comments along the lines of "everyone in DC does that" or "it's a rite of passage to live in a crappy basement apartment in DC."
My reaction is thus: I am sure there are bigger things to be dug up on Rahm. While I respect him as a former Congressman and White House Chief of Staff, I am sure he has skeletons in his closet. That's beside the point. However, unlicensed and thus unregulated landlords are a problem in the city. A big problem.
While Congresswoman DeLauro is not a slumlord, there are many who rent unlicensed and unsafe apartments to low income people, families, and students. Back when I was in college, a student died in his basement apartment that was in violate of fire/occupancy codes.
DC has made some attempts to educate renters, and created the site thisshouldbeillegal.com to help inform people of their rights. While this was mostly designed for students, personally I urge anyone who rents to check it out.
While this whole DCRA Twitter thing is pretty dumb, I'm actually not completely enraged by the response the DC government has shown towards this problem. I only hope that this stupid non-scandal won't hurt the cause of getting landlords to be properly licensed. One of the few things I don't hate about DC is the strong advocacy for tenants' rights.
Posted by Dave Stroup at 9:26 PM