Housing

Housing

Our practice in this area focuses on representation of homeowners associations, condominium associations, and tenants associations – as well as individual homeowners and tenants – in various types of lawsuits and negotiations with developers and landlords. For example:

  • Construction Defects & Design Defects. Homeowners associations, condominium associations, and individual homeowners or unit owners, often discover that their homes or condominium buildings suffer from serious construction or design defects. These defects can include problems with roofing, plumbing, HVAC systems or other crucial building systems and elements. Such defects can cause problems ranging from aesthetic deterioration, to compromise of a building’s structural integrity, to serious health problems. Fixing these defects can often be complicated, disruptive and expensive. The associations, or individual owners, may have the right to seek monetary recovery from the developers of their homes or condominium buildings under various legal theories, such as breach of warranty, breach of contract, negligence or (in some cases) fraud. The investigation and litigation of such claims is a highly specialized and expert-intensive area of the law. Our attorneys are experienced in handling such claims, and can help lead homeowners, condominium unit owners, and their respective associations, through this complicated process.
  • Condominium Conversions. Residential tenants and tenants associations have various rights when the owners of apartment buildings seek to convert the buildings into condominiums. In the District of Columbia, such conversions almost always require a “tenant election,” a process through which the tenants can decide whether or not to approve the conversion of their building into a condominium. Because tenants have the power to “veto” conversion, tenants and tenants associations often are able to use that power to negotiate with the owners of their buildings for more favorable terms. Our attorneys are experienced in representing tenants and tenants associations in the conversion process, and helping those clients vigorously assert their rights, and aggressively negotiate with building owners.
  • Tenant Opportunity To Purchase. In the District of Columbia, the owner of an apartment building may not sell the building without first making an “offer of sale” to the tenants. The tenants then have the right, usually through a “tenant organization,” to purchase the building, or to assign their rights to others in exchange for money or other benefits. In addition, if the owner of an apartment building enters into a contract with a third-party for the sale of the building, the tenants have a “right of first refusal,” which is the right to step into the shoes of the third-party, and purchase the building on the same terms. The law that provides these rights is the D.C. Rental Housing Conversion and Sale Act, which is a complicated, highly-technical law. Our attorneys have experience in representing tenants and tenants associations who have received offers of sale. We also have extensive experience in representing tenants and tenants associations in litigation where owners of apartment buildings have failed to comply with the “offer of sale” requirements.
  • Fair Housing. The federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the laws of most states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability. Some state laws are even broader than the FHA, and prohibit discrimination based on factors not covered by the FHA, such as sexual orientation and place of residence. Federal and some state laws also prohibit discrimination in the provision of credit, insurance and other services necessary to secure housing. Our attorneys have extensive experience representing both individuals and groups who have faced discrimination in obtaining housing, including litigation both against private and government actors. We also have experience handling the difficult issues involved in obtaining court approval for certification of a class of individuals who have faced a pattern of discrimination, a crucial step in seeking redress for systematic fair housing violations.