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Owners of vacant, blighted properties may encounter higher tax rates, fines

The D.C. Council still needs to approve the legislation a second time before the mayor can sign it

On Tuesday, the D.C. Council unanimously passed a bill first introduced by At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman that will cause vacant and blighted properties to receive higher property tax rates.

The Washington City Paper reported that rates will be 5 and 10 percent more than standard. The owners of the properties will have to pay the fees until they prove to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) that they have fixed the property.

The legislation will also limit the period an owner can claim an exemption from higher taxes. The fine for failing to comply with relevant DCRA orders will also be increased, from $1,000 to $5,000.

According to the Washington City Paper, the DCRA has been inconsistent in enforcing property laws. In order to fix this issue, the bill will require the DCRA to maintain and publish a list of neglected properties with information on when tax exemptions will expire.