Columbia Heights

Tenants of DC Apartment Building Go on Rent Strike Over Pests, Damages

One renter in the Columbia Heights complex says the strike will continue "as long as it needs to"

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Mice, bed bugs and damaged walls and floors are the reasons cited for why residents of a Columbia Heights apartment building say they will refuse to pay their rent.

More than 40 people have banded together to demand their landlord to fix the problems.

"It's frustrating," Maresa Hernandez says. She told News4 that the unit she shares with her mother inside the apartment building — at 3435 HolmeadPlace NW — is unsafe.

"My mom has asthma and living with cockroaches and mice and bed bugs all these pests, it's bad for her health," Hernandez said.

Hernandez says she is one of dozens of residents who have complained to UIPProperty Management for a few months about roaches along with damaged floors and walls.

"We felt neglected by them," she said. "We felt it was time that we should organize."

The management company's website says it rents out studios in the Holmead Apartments from $1,450 a month.

Residents who live in 40 of the 100 apartments held a rally Friday night, announcing they're going on a rent strike. They held signs that read, "we're not moving," "no justice, no rent" and "power to tenants."

They refuse to pay rent until UIP Property Management fixes the alleged problems. A building manager, representing UIP, declined to comment on the strike.

Some tenants out here told News4 that crews had already started making some repairs, but they say more work needs to be done.

"They've made some repairs, the cheap ones, paint here or there, but there are still serious housing code violations," said Rob Wohl, with Stomp Out Slumlords. "Major pest infestations are the biggest problem."

How long is this strike going to last? "As long as it needs to," Hernandez said.

Some of the tenants say they are prepared to defend themselves in court if the landlord tries to evict them.

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