Sanford Capital, LLC, and its owner are being forced to return more than $1.1 million in rent payments to their 155 tenants who lived uninhabitable conditions, Attorney General Karl Racine announced on Wednesday.
The payment is required as part of a joint settlement of three consumer protection lawsuits brought by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) against Sanford. The company is accused of charging rent without maintaining its properties and endangering its tenants.
The settlement also resolves 32 claims filed by the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia on behalf of individual tenants who complained about housing conditions at a Sanford property.
According to a statement released by the OAG, Sanford has to give back rent paid by tenants at three properties in Wards 5, 7, and 8. The company was also ordered to pay the District a penalty. In addition, a previous settlement requires it to continue divesting from all its properties in D.C.
The tenants’ homes were reportedly infested by pests and mold and violated housing and fire codes. Another issue at the households was raw sewage, exposure to which can lead to viruses, bacteria, and parasites in humans.
“The Office of the Attorney General fought Sanford Capital’s shocking abuses for years alongside tenants and their advocates,” AG Racine was quoted as saying in the statement.
“I am pleased that this settlement will provide long-overdue monetary relief to vulnerable residents who were forced to endure inhumane living conditions. Today’s settlement sends a message to slumlords that business practices that put profit ahead of the safety and wellbeing of their tenants will not be tolerated in the District.”