We’ve been dipping our toes into the DC housing market recently, but after this weekend, I think I’m just about ready to give up. Anything that comes on the market at a decent price is snapped up almost immediately–by my count, mean time from listing to contract is under seven days. The only things that stay on the market long enough to look at fall into one of two categories:
1. The owner bought the house between 2004 and 2007, and wants to get their money back out, hopefully with a little profit . . . and has therefore priced their home at least $100,000 above what the market will bear.
2. The house has been rented, and the tenants, familiar with their copious rights under DC housing law, are essentially refusing to allow the house to be shown.***
There are two components to this, one DC-specific, one not. The specific part is the aforementioned tenant laws, which make New York’s arcane housing court system look like a bastion of pro-landlord sentiment.
By now, you just have to know what is coming next, don’t you? I mean, it is a virtual given. Wait for it, wait for it… THERE:
Not in DC! There’s a whole Office of the Tenant Advocate that will harass your landlord for free if he does you wrong. I resorted to it when a house we were going to rent, that was having some work done when we looked, turned out to have been renovated substantially below both code, and what we were promised.
It’s so unfair when tenant laws work in all tenants’ favor. John Galt would bust in with his unregulated firearms and demand that the free market says those mean tenants show the house against their will!
And I’ll spare you all from linking to the 30 or so posts I’m sure exist on why Megan thinks more people should be renting than owning a home (something with which I generally agree!). You’d think someone who believed that would like strong laws for tenants. But then you wouldn’t have what it takes to write for the Atlantic.