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Washington City Paper: D.C. Property Management Company’s Pattern of Neglect Leads to Squalid, Unsafe Conditions and Displacement, Tenants Say

June 26, 2024

Suzie Amanuel, of Washington City Paper, reports on the inhumane conditions endured by individuals living in buildings run by a negligent property management company in the District. It is often very difficult to identify and sanction negligent landlords, like the one who owns these properties, because their personal assets and identities can be hidden behind single-entity LLCs.

Policy Attorney Makenna Osborn speaks to that issue in the article:

Thirteen Scope-managed buildings with serious housing code violations were owned by LLCs whose beneficial ownership can be traced to one man: James Strasbourger. (Seven of those buildings have been sold in the past year and a half, and at least two others are listed for sale by Crosby, who is also a real estate agent.) 

LLCs are commonly used by property owners to shield their personal assets from corporate liability and, in some cases, their identities from the public. Makenna Osborn, policy attorney with the Children’s Law Center, testified before the D.C. Council earlier this year about the difficulty in identifying negligent landlords who own multiple properties via single-entity LLCs. The D.C. Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection does not verify the accuracy of owners’ information, she says, and it can take time-consuming and sophisticated research to discover who is behind an LLC that owns a building.

“For families experiencing emergency situations like lack of electricity, heat, and hot water, every day that procedural hurdles delay their relief is unacceptable,” Osborn said.