The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) has rolled out different strategies aimed at enhancing consumer protection through stricter enforcement of housing code laws.
The regulatory commission has announced that beginning from May this year, housing inspectors will in the case of any violation of housing code, issue a Notice of Infraction (NOI), instead of Notice of Violation (NOV). This NOI will serve the multiple purposes of hastening necessary repair process, reeling out fines consequent to the particular code violated, and citing an order for the completion of essential repairs.
Data analysis has shown that in the last three fiscal years, out of 30,700 cases of housing code violations, the NOV process was only able to address 3,400 units adequately.
According to the Acting Director of the DCRA, Ernest Chrappah, the goal of the agency is to protect the interest of the plentiful number of people living in rental housing units and to reassure the tenants that penalties would be melted down on housing providers each time there’s a housing code violation.
In the coming month also, housing inspectors will get remote access to the violation history of housing providers. This, alongside other relevant data, will be made available to inspectors on their mobile tablets. The inspectors will thence compile and submit reports from their field investigation, which will be uploaded on the DCRA Dashboard. Same will be encoded into the visual map of all the available housing code violations in the city displayed on Dashboard. Also, housing unit providers will also receive electronic alerts notifying them each time they violate the housing code.
Acting Director Chrappah believes that these operational improvements will result in improved compliance with housing laws, which will ultimately yield better housing conditions. These measures are also geared towards increasing the efficiency of the agency in collecting and analyzing available data, for more effective housing law enforcement.
Improved data analysis will give the DCRA a more explicit detail of the 28,500 rental apartments in the District, and ease the process of tracing historically problematic properties. The newly formulated procedures-NOI process, improved data collection and on-site reporting- will give the agency an upper hand in targeting offenders, and enforcing compliance to a greater extent than what was obtainable in the past.
These changes put the agency in the league of digitally enhanced organizations, and hold the promise of delivering greater and more credible service to the public.
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