Silverman Re-Introduces DCRA Bill Protecting Homeowners with Negligent Property Damage

Today, D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) re-introduced a bill that would strengthen protections and recourse options for homeowners whose property is damaged by negligent construction at a neighboring site. The bill was co-introduced by Chairman Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) and eleven councilmembers.

“I've heard horror stories from District homeowners about cracked foundations, flooded basements, and years of battling contractors who refuse to take responsibility for careless work,” said Silverman. “Homeowners must have reliable protections against property damage.”

In response to continuous complaints of careless development practices that can damage neighborhood homes, Councilmember Silverman re-introduced the Substandard Construction Relief Amendment Act.

The legislation requires contractors and construction companies who damage an adjoining or abutting property to repair the damage or compensate the property owner for the cost of the repairs. If a homeowner’s property is damaged by construction work being done at a neighboring site, the only way to seek repairs under the current law is to come to an agreement with the violating contractor to fix the damage. Homeowners frequently must file a lawsuit to legally enforce the repairs—a time-consuming and prohibitively expensive option for many residents. Further, many homeowners do not want to entrust repairs to the same contractor who damaged their property.

In addition to providing legal footing to enforce timely property repairs, the bill gives homeowners the option of choosing a different contractor to repair the damage at the expense of the contractor who caused the damage.

“This is a common-sense bill that protects property owners while decreasing the chances of a repeat offense,” said Silverman. “I look forward to passing this legislation into law as soon as possible.”

The bill was originally introduced last February, and the Committee of the Whole held a hearing on the bill last July. Upon re-introduction, the bill was referred to the Committee of the Whole.