About Us

green-building

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) created the University Off-Campus Housing Initiative to assist owners/landlords who rent off-campus housing to students.  The safety of off-campus student housing is a priority to the District of Columbia.  Partnering with the community can ensure a healthy and safe living environment. The objective of this initiative is to ensure that all rental properties meet basic housing code requirement set by District of Columbia law.

The DCRA University Off-Campus Housing Initiative works with universities and owner/landlords to make certain that student rented properties are properly licensed and inspected. DCRA requires owners and landlords to meet District and federal housing health codes. These codes describe and specify guidelines that regulate emergency exits, fire extinguishers, notifications systems, operational heating systems, property maintenance, heating, plumbing, roofing, pests (such as rats, mice, or other pests) and structural matters such as walls, windows, basements and attics.  This program was established to ensure that rental properties are deemed safe and habitable.

If you are a student who believes that the conditions in your apartment or house are unlivable or unsafe you should:

  • Provide written notice to the owner or landlord about the unsafe condition and possible code violation(s) and allow sufficient time and opportunity for a resolution.
  • Call the DCRA Inspections Line at (202) 442-9557, select #6 or email dcra.housingcomplaints@dc.gov and provide your name, number, address and brief description of violations to schedule an inspection.
  • Be available at address and time of scheduled appointment.
  • Maintain copy of inspection(s) results returned by mail.

Basic Business License (BBL) Overview            

In January 2014, DCRA began inspecting off-campus student housing that do not have a Basic Business License (BBL) and/or an updated inspection certificate on file.  To operate a business and rental properties in the District of Columbia, a BBL and an inspection certificate is required.  Whether or not a BBL is required is determined based on the type of business conducted in the District of Columbia.  In some instances, business entities whose principals are required to maintain licensure by a local, state or national certification board or body may not be required to obtain a BBL.

District of Columbia law requires all owners and landlords to secure a BBL through DCRA.  After a BBL is obtained, a basic inspection is required within 15 days. New and returning students that live off-campus can see if their owner/landlord is licensed here.  District of Columbia law requires all owners and landlords to secure a BBL through DCRA.

For owners and landlords who wish to obtain a BBL, information is available here. Owners and landlords who wish to have rental property inspected should:

  • Obtain consent in writing from the student –tenant if they will not be present for the inspection.
  • Call the DCRA Inspections Line at (202) 442-9557, select #6 to schedule an inspection.
  • Be available at address and time of scheduled appointment.
  • After the inspection, all code violation should be corrected within 15-30 business days.
  • Maintain copy of inspection(s) results returned by mail.

4 Comments on “About Us

  1. I am interested in starting a similar initiative out here in CT (near two universities). How did you choose the name? Do you find that the name automatically puts you at odds with landlords? Or do you find landlords easy to work with?

  2. Great website — but I have to wonder why it’s only aimed at college students? Surely non-student renters have the same problems with landlords.

    • Thanks for comment. We do a ton of outreach in the city and yet the toughest demogrphic to reach and provide information was the transient student populations and with five major universities and more than a dozen others, we used the blog to kick this off. We do get a ton of non-students using the site as well and may expand target audience in the near future. Thanks again for the comment.

  3. Whomever it may concern, I am interested in discussing with you the opportunity to place a link to the “Have an Exit Strategy” website for use by your students. We think this (your)website is ahead of the curve and I am sure that there will be many wanting to follow your lead. We here in Texas are attempting to “get the word out” about citizens (students) taking responsibility for their own safety and in this particular case, as it relates to exiting. On the HAES website there is much information about exiting along with downloads for exiting posters that might proove beneficial for any group wanting to emphasize exiting and the importance thereof. We have a FEMA grant to place this program into every 4 year Public Institution in Texas this year with a grant pending to include all Private and 2 year Institutions in Texas next year should we get it. There is no cost involved, we simply want to make it availiable to everyone. Should you have any questions, please call me at 512-305-7902 or email me. Thank you for you attention.

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