Tuesday, October 9, 2007

how do you contact an owner about a vacant property?

ok, here's a question for everyone out there paying attention. there is a house that i've lived across the street from for over a year now (1823 1st St. NW) and i'm 99% sure that no one lives there. no one ever goes in or out of the place, birds fly in and out of holes in the facade, and it's far and away the most popular hang out place day in and out for the local drunks or people who just seem to have nothing better to do. (for example, for the last hour an elderly man has been on the stoop drinking, holding an extensive conversation with himself, and generally doing a good impression of someone who should be institutionalized in a city that has a good system to care for the mentally handicapped).

now, i was curious who really owns this place that i've seen used as a public restroom and a good place to hide and shoot up some drugs, so i went to the DC citizen atlas and went to the "real property" link in the upper right. i punched in the address, and found that an L. G. McKinnie owns the property, and that person's mailing address is 3044 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. so, i looked up that house, and found that it's owned by El S. Zulu. so now i'm confused. are those two people related somehow? and which one should i try to get in touch with to let them know my concerns that their house is not the safest or nicest place on the block.

and here's the kicker: after looking at the detailed information on the 1st Street property HERE, it appears that L. G. McKinnie is claiming the homestead exemption on an empty property. that can't be legal, can it?

UPDATE: looks like that link to the detailed tax information is a URL that times out, so it doesn't work anymore. going to this page will allow you to search for the records.

10 comments:

jaime said...

I'd say skip trying to hunt the owner down and report the property for DCRA investigation.

Mari said...

Agreed, it is your duty as a citizen to report tax fraud. But also send the listed owner a nice letter stating that you just happened to have noticed that they are claiming an expemption and they may want to get that straightened out. Don't threaten, if you are going to report them, report them, but never threaten to report.

Maureen said...

Absolutely report this to DCRA. It is (big surprise) a somewhat complicated system in DC to get a property considered vacant. It is actually DCRA who creates the vacant property list (update somewhat regularly) and then the list goes to OTR and THEN the property gets taxed at the higher rate (and can't claim homestead). Because this is a money generating project, I think you'll be surprised at how fast that homestead deduction is pulled. You should also check and make sure it is being taxed at class 3 and not at class 1.

pumpkininrecovery said...

I obviously knew you lived close to me since we both live in Bloomingdale, but somehow I didn't realize that you were just that close. Cool!

IMGoph said...

maureen, i don't know what the different classes mean (one versus three), but looking at the records, it looks like the tax class is 1. so i don't know what that entails...

pumpkin, are you on the 1800 block of 1st as well?

Maureen said...

Class 1 means a property is occupied (rented, owned, etc) and class 3 means vacant and that NO ONE can live there. Homestead is used ONLY when the owner lives there. If a lot is totally vacant (not livable), it should be class 3, no homestead. A property CAN be class 1, without homestead. At class 5, OTR taxes at a rate of $5 per $100, whereas class 1 gets taxed at .96 (dropping to .92 if it hasn't already) per $100. So the vacant lots get taxed at a MUCH higher rate to force the owners to keep it in shape. DCRA/OTR is quite efficient in getting lots changed to class 3, since it means more $$ for the city. This can be reported on the DCRA home page.

Maureen said...

Ooops, I meant at class 3, the tax rate is $5 per $100. There is no class 5 (that I know of). Sorry!

bogfrog said...

I would suggest getting in touch with LG McKinnie in care of that address by mail or telephone. I don't think there's anything out of line in saying, "hello, I'm your neighbor on 1st Street, and I think I have seen some strange things on your property and wanted to give you a call."

Anonymous said...

Interesting. The houses on either side of me of both abandoned and I was wondering who owned them.

Lyco said...

I agree with just reporting the property. The houses on either side of us are abandoned, and we've tried multiple times to get in touch with the owners who all give the same excuses. It's best to just make sure the DC government knows what's up. Not that it has helped us yet...