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Vacant Properties Are Underreported Due to Loopholes, Understaffing

While the DCRA lists 1,200 vacant and blighted properties in Washington, D.C., the number should actually be around 5,000

In a recent post on Greater Greater Washington, ANC 4D04 Commissioner David Sheon states that loopholes cause the number of vacant properties reported in Washington, D.C. to be smaller than it should be. According to Sheon, the 1,200 vacant and blighted properties officially listed by the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) should actually be around 5,000.

Sheon claims that it's difficult to get a property officially registered as vacant or blighted due to a lack of staffing and resources at the Vacant Building Enforcement Unit (VBE) of the DCRA. "Unfortunately, D.C.'s system for identifying these properties, assessing penalties, and putting properties back into productive use is fundamentally broken," wrote Sheon.

Additionally, homeowners can avoid the raised taxes on their properties through loopholes. As a way to encourage owners to sell or fix their properties, the VBE raises the tax rate on vacant buildings by 5 percent and blighted buildings by 10 percent. Some of the loopholes that can prevent homeowners from dealing with these taxes include putting the house on the market or getting a permit to do work on the house.

To see what solutions Sheon suggests for the city, be sure to read the full post by going to Greater Greater Washington here.

To report a building that you believe is vacant, either call 311 or email

DC has way more vacant properties than it thinks [Greater Greater Washington]