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District of Columbia Real Estate Law Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Consumer Law, Contracts, Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for District of Columbia on
Q: Upstairs apartment leaked human wastewater into my apartment kitchen. What is my landlord's responsibility?

I have asked for a plumber - they are using a jack of all trades. I have asked to move into another empty unit, with the move fee waived - denied. I have asked for alternative accommodations until the repair and clean up is completed - denied. I have asked for a break in the rent, since the... Read more »

Steven Krieger
Steven Krieger answered on Jul 27, 2020

In DC, you're able to withhold rent for housing code violations and wastewater coming into your unit seems to qualify. The landlord may take you to court and you'd have to explain the housing code violation, but this is a viable remedy for you.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for District of Columbia on
Q: What happens in the District of Columbia in a "joint tenancy" when an individual passes?
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley answered on Aug 5, 2019

The survivor of the two joint tenants becomes sole owner of the property as a matter of law. The survivor can, but need not, file a new deed to show the property is solely theirs. They will need the death certificate and a new deed drafted. Alternatively, they may only need to record the death... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for District of Columbia on
Q: I am the spouse of a deceased heir of an estate that died after the decedent. Am I entitled to receive any inheritance?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on May 3, 2019

You need to speak with a lawyer to fill in the family tree and discuss any Will or trust that might exist. Just for the first questions:

Is there a Will, and is your or you late husbands name in it?

Did "the decedent" -- the first person to die -- we'll call him or...
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1 Answer | Asked in Contracts, Criminal Law, Real Estate Law and Elder Law for District of Columbia on
Q: My father, who lives in Washington, DC needs to get out of a reverse mortgage scam. He wasn't 100% to sign a contract.

He was approximately 80 at the time. Diminished vision. Emotionally compromised. Victim of phone and mail fraud.

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Feb 19, 2019

You should have a consult with a lawyer before he dies. The facts matter, and they should not be discussed in an open forum.

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for District of Columbia on
Q: I have a pending real estate transaction that involves a listing agent who's refusing to split the commission. Advice?

I am the procuring agent in this transaction as I brought the buyer to the table... the property hadn't sold in years after being listed with same agent.

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Dec 11, 2018

If you are both members of the National Association of Realtors, GCAAR (and/or MAR) and the MRIS, there is a mandatory arbitration system maintained by either GCAAR, MAR, or MRIS. That might be useful, or you might get a lawyer involved early on in the hopes that, by communications with the... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for District of Columbia on
Q: My friend owns 2/3rds of a house and wants to sell. Does she need to get permission from the 1/3rd owner? P

The other party was willed their portion of the house. The 2/3rd owner has lived in it for 50 years

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Dec 4, 2018

All owners have to agree to a sale unless a court orders sale in lieu of partition. That petition is, however, fairly straightforward in the hands of experienced counsel.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for District of Columbia on
Q: My daddy left a will to his wife, myself and my brother. My stepmother had a letter written and notarized before death.

The letter: This is to supercede xxx Last Will an Testament. Because of health problems and aging, I, xxx, do hereby relinquish all rights, privileges and duties to and for the estate as stated in his Last Will and Testament to his children,

What is the legality of this document?

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Aug 6, 2018

What a perfect example of the old adage “Pay me now or pay me (much more) later.” A revision of the Will would have cost a few hundred. An estate plan that effectively cut spousal rights to the legal minimum would have cost a few thousand. I could argue either side of that one, and that... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Tax Law for District of Columbia on
Q: We had to sell our house before the bank foreclosed on us. Do we have to pay taxes on it?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Feb 26, 2018

If taxes are due, yes. But, that will rarely be the case. See a qualified CPA or lawyer.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Probate and Real Estate Law for District of Columbia on
Q: Can I take my aunt to court for a equal share of the sale of the house and bank accounts?

...

Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley answered on Feb 13, 2018

Not enough facts to answer this question. What gives you the right to claim an interest in "the sale of the house and bank accounts"? Were you named in a will by the deceased owner of these assets as an heir or legatee? Is your name on the title to these assets? If so, you will need... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law, Contracts and Construction Law for District of Columbia on
Q: WHAT TYPE OF LAWYER DO I NEED TO SUE A GENERAL CONTRACTOR FOR STEALING 22K FROM ME AND DOING NOTHING TO MY PROPERTY?

ALREADY FILED A COMPLAINT WITH DCRA AND UNSUCCESSFULLY WAS NOT ABLE TO OBTAIN MY MONEY BACK EVEN TRIED MPD WITH NO SUCCESS. I WAS ADVISED BY MY INVESTIGATOR FROM DCRA TO PURSUE LEGAL ACTION AND GET BACK TO HER SO THEY COULD POSSIBLY TAKE HIS LICENSE. I NEED A LAWYER BECAUSE HE HAS DONE NOTHING TO... Read more »

Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley answered on Feb 8, 2018

Unfortunately, unlike Maryland's MHIC, the DCRA does not have a proactive investigatory and civil enforcement arm to it, and there is no insurance fund for consumers to claim against in the event a licensed contractor fails to perform a home improvement. Homeowners in DC are left to sue on... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for District of Columbia on
Q: How do I get assistance with upstairs neighbor that is dropping heavy items, slamming doors and walking back and forth?

Condo building/tenant is renting/ was not vetted by board /not able to sleep through the night because sleep is constantly interrupted.

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Oct 8, 2017

1. Walk upstairs, introduce yourself, and then politely discuss the problem assuming they don’t know they are disturbing you;

2. Get a lawyer to review all your condo docs to find all possible violations, and lay out a game plan to get rid of him:

3. Get a sound meter and...
Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for District of Columbia on
Q: If my mother wants to sell an apartment that we jointly own, does she need my permission to do so?

My mother and I share 50/50 ownership of an apartment. If she decides to sell it, does she need my written permission to do so? And if she sells it, am I entitled to 50% of the profits?

Ali Shahrestani, Esq.
Ali Shahrestani, Esq. answered on Jul 26, 2017

She may need your permission, depending on the type of ownership rights you share. The same goes for the profits. More details are necessary to provide a professional analysis of your issue. The best first step is an Initial Consultation with an Attorney such as myself. You can read more about me,... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for District of Columbia on
Q: Can the renters of the place I am buying get my agents license revoked because I (the buyer ) contacted them?

I am buying a place in DC. The renters have already signed their topa rights away. However i need them to sign the notice to vacate so my bank can move forward. They are supposed to be out the 30th of june. 2 days from now and have agreed. I also went to back to the place to show my GF and the... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Jun 28, 2017

No. You talking to a tenant is not grounds for revocation of your realtor's license. But, it does sound like you need a lawyer in your corner to make things go smoother.

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for District of Columbia on
Q: Is it possible to sue a neighbor anonymously?

I am a homeowner in an "unsavory" area of Washington DC. A few houses down from where I live, there is an apartment building where the residents (and their visitors) keep noise outside of the building at all hours of the night. It is disturbing my sleep and the police do nothing when... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Jun 21, 2017

As a theoretical matter, no. As a practical matter, again, no. But, if you are rich enough and committed enough, maybe. You might act through others in forming a neighborhood association in which you'd really be the anonymous donor, but would appear to be a mere member. The association would... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for District of Columbia on
Q: Can a buyer void a contract for "personal reasons" but use their "right to void" from the inspection addendum?

My wife and I just signed a contract with a buyer to sell our home on 22 May 2016 (FSBO, but we offered the buyer's agent 2.5%). Today, the agent's assistant emailed us the following message: "Unfortunately an unexpected personal event has come up and [buyer] has to void the... Read more »

Ali Shahrestani, Esq.
Ali Shahrestani, Esq. answered on Dec 15, 2016

It sounds like a possible breach, but more facts and review of the contract are required. The best first step is an Initial Consultation with an Attorney. You can read more about me on my law practice website. This answer does not constitute legal advice; make any predictions, guarantees, or... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Collections and Real Estate Law for District of Columbia on
Q: How do I collect a judgment awarded by the Court against a contractor that caused major damage during home repairs?

Hello - A real property lien has been filed with the state. The defendant jointly owns a house with his mother (she lives elsewhere), and a foreclosure case on the property is in progress. The mother is trying to refinance in order to keep the house. As the property has considerable market value... Read more »

Ali Shahrestani, Esq.
Ali Shahrestani, Esq. answered on Dec 9, 2016

Try finding a foreclosure attorney, bankruptcy attorney, and collections lawyer online, and ask if they take cases on a contingency. The best first step is an Initial Consultation with an Attorney. You can read more about me on my law practice website. This answer does not constitute legal advice;... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for District of Columbia on
Q: Our disclosure statement said our roof is 0-5 years. Is an overlay on an old roof considered a new roof?
Ali Shahrestani, Esq.
Ali Shahrestani, Esq. answered on Dec 9, 2016

It depends on what you mean by "overlay" and what the disclosure statement specifically stated. The best first step is an Initial Consultation with an Attorney. You can read more about me on my law practice website. This answer does not constitute legal advice; make any predictions,... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for District of Columbia on
Q: Can D.C. corporation own property in New York
David Thomas Wagner
David Thomas Wagner answered on Oct 19, 2011

I expect that a DC Corp can own property in NY but it may have to register to do business in NY. his question is best posed to a NY attorney.

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