DCRA News | New Legislation, Assistance for Seniors, Zoning Information and More

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January 2022 Edition

A Message From the Director

Director Ernest Chrappah Head Shot

When I wrote in the DCRA News last, I spoke about how the agency's culture has transformed over the past few years into one that consistently meets or exceeds key performance indicators which are essentially benchmarks on how well we deliver core services. 

Recently, I returned from the Business Transformation and Operational Excellence World Summit and Industry Awards (BOTES) where DCRA won a global award for our agency’s workplace digital transformation. The agency received the “Most Outstanding Digital Transformation Workplace Program” award. This award solidifies DCRA’s transformation as an agency that uses innovation and technology to better serve our customers and transform delivery of government services. 

Following the award, we consistently heard over and over “Congratulations!” “This is so well deserved." "Why aren’t other government entities doing this?” “You are an example that every government agency should follow.” and as good as these comments were to hear, and to receive the award, history teaches us that no great body of work is ever finished so our transformation will continue. 

2022 will be a watershed moment as we implement the breakup of DCRA into two separate agencies – the Department of Buildings and the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection.  This disruption, like the pandemic, is not something that we asked for, but are prepared for based on the experience gained from our Vision 2020: Roadmap to Digital Transformation campaign that is behind us, and our Future Ready Strategic Plan that is underway. But to keep driving positive change and make it a success story, I would love to hear from you - what do we need to do together to be successful in the new year? 

Our commitment to service is strong and we take our role – ensuring public safety and empowering business very seriously. With the New Year, I am excited to turn the page on the calendar and look ahead with optimism as we set the stage for the future.

Stay safe and Happy New Year!

DCRA Director Ernest Chrappah Signature

Ernest Chrappah, Director

To help us be more successful this year, please use the Contact DCRA option on dcra.dc.gov and select “Ask the Director” to share your feedback. Thank you.

DCRA Wins Global Award For Its Digital Transformation

White Space

The Bowser Administration is pleased to announce that DCRA has won a global award for its workplace digital transformation. The agency received the “Most Outstanding Digital Transformation Workplace Program” award at the Business Transformation & Operational Excellence World Summit & Industry Awards (BTOES) in Orlando, Florida.

Established to showcase outstanding achievements and measured results, the annual BTOES awards focus on how organizations worldwide are rethinking and adjusting the role of operational excellence to prepare for the future, transform their businesses, and gain a competitive advantage.

"Under the leadership of Mayor Muriel Bowser, DCRA is a leader, not only within the District, but across industries," said DCRA Director Ernest Chrappah. “Being in the company of global leaders such as Microsoft, IBM, Shell and more, this award solidifies our transformation as an agency that uses innovation and technology to better serve our customers and transform delivery of government services.”

With an unprecedented number of submissions received, the awards were judged by an independent panel of more than 30 leading thinkers and practitioners within the Business and Digital Transformation, Operational Excellence and Innovation Excellence communities who hail from organizations such as Amazon, HP, JP Morgan Chase and Google. The World Summit is also the largest gathering of senior-level executives across the entire business transformation and operational excellence ecosystem.

Chrappah and DCRA Deputy Director Shirley Kwan-hui accepted the award on behalf of Mayor Bowser and District residents and businesses on Wednesday, December 15, 2021 in Orlando, Florida at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld.

The BTOES is owned by Proqis, a division of Global Media Research Ltd.

Short-Term Rental License Applications Accepted Beginning January 10, 2022

Short Term Rental Application Logo

Undeterred by the pandemic, Washington’s real estate market remains robust. One of the growing sectors in this hot market is the short-term and vacation rental market, anticipated at around 5,100 units.

The Short-Term Rental Regulation Act of 2018 took effect on December 3, 2021 and includes new requirements for District residents wanting to share their home with others to earn extra income. To assist homeowners become licensed, DCRA will begin accepting applications for Short-Term and Vacation Rental Licenses beginning January 10, 2022.

Under the program, there is no limit on the number of rentals per year, however, individual rentals are limited to 30 continuous nights. Licensing fees are $104.50 for a two-year license. 

There are some caveats for those considering operating a rental in either category:

  • The owner, or host, must attest to the habitability of the property.
  • There must be unobstructed egress from the rental property, and working smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors, and a portable fire extinguisher must be on hand.
  • Proof of liability insurance ($250,000 minimum) is required.
  • If the rental is a co-op, condo, or if the property is in a community where there is a homeowner’s association, the owner must attest that short-term or vacation rentals are allowed.
  • Hosts must provide a 24-hour emergency phone number, and their Short-Term Rental of Vacation Rental License must be prominently displayed.
  • All applicable transient lodging taxes, which will be collected by booking services on behalf of hosts, must be paid.
  • Records of each booking must be maintained for a two-year period.
  • Investment properties owned by corporate entities are not eligible.

DCRA is aware that there are property owners who are currently operating short-term or vacation rentals. To give short-term rental hosts enough time to get their licenses, there will be a 90-day grace period before enforcement begins. 

Learn More

Watch: An Overview of District of Columbia Zoning Interpretations

An Overview of District of Columbia Zoning Interpretations Graphics

Recently, the DCRA Office of the Zoning Administrator (OZA) invited stakeholders to join us for a virtual event to learn more about zoning resources available to help customers better understand how the OZA interprets regulations set forth by the Office of Zoning (DCOZ), a District government agency independent from DCRA. As one of the entities involved in the zoning process, the OZA administers, interprets, and enforces the DC Zoning Regulations, DCMR Title 11. 

With more than 100 virtual attendees tuning in, the OZA introduced and provided an overview of the origin, purpose, and benefits of Zoning Interpretations – to raise awareness of particular issues to the development community and other customers. In response to reoccurring questions from applicants and citizens, DCRA has published 30 zoning interpretations to date. These interpretations provide clarification of regulations, inform residents and businesses of several long-standing practices, and provide a common and uniform basis for consistency in applying the zoning provisions here in the District of Columbia.

New Leaf Blower Regulations Take Effect January 1, 2022

Leaf Blower Regulations to Take Effect

DCRA wants to notify you of a law that was passed earlier by the Council of the District of Columbia that may soon impact local residents and businesses.

On January 1, 2022, the Leaf Blower Regulation Amendment Act of 2018 took effect. The Act prohibits the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers in the District. Individuals and companies who continue to use gasoline-powered leaf blowers after this date will be subject to fines of up to $500 for each offense. 

After January 1, 2022, violations of the law can be reported by any person who observes a gas-powered leaf blower being used in the District, which can then result in an enforcement proceeding against the violator. For your awareness, DCRA will be accepting photographic and recorded (video and audio) evidence in support of these citations. 

Please plan ahead and prepare for equipment changes that comply with the new law.

Financial Assistance for Businesses

If you have an active DC Business License, commercial and residential rebates are being offered by the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU). Learn more and apply for rebates.

For more information, please visit dcra.dc.gov/leafblower.

Front Door | Helping Current and Future DC Homeowners Thrive

Front Door DC Homepage

DCRA is proud to have participated in the development of Front Door, a DC government website helping current and future homeowners thrive. Front Door is designed to help residents or future residents find the best resources to support their housing needs in the District.

It offers information about how to make your home safer, make repairs or renovate your home, or save on utilities. Front Door also offers a short quiz that explores the DC government resources right for the place you call home. Check it out today and navigate over 50 District resources to help you thrive as a DC homeowner – whether you are one now or want to be in the future.


Visit Front Door

DCRA Services to Assist District Seniors

DCRA at Mayor Bowsers Senior Holiday Celebration

DCRA was pleased to support District seniors by attending Mayor Bowser’s 23rd Annual Senior Holiday Celebration on December 15, 2021 that celebrated DC’s senior community and helped showcase the wide range of government services available to assist seniors throughout the District (pictured are Ward-Based Account Managers Mark-Anthony Tynes and Jason Phillips and Special Assistant Mamei Willie-Bonglo with a District resident).

DCRA highlighted the following programs and initiatives that are available to assist seniors:

  • Consumer Protection Investigations: Do you have a complaint about a business? Didn’t get what you paid for? We recognize seniors are sometimes vulnerable to fraud. DCRA can open investigations where losses total $250 or more, or there is a pattern or practice of abuse.  Be sure to file your complaint within three years of the incident. Visit dcra.dc.gov, and under Services look for “Submit a Complaint About a Business” to file a complaint.
  • Dispatch, DCRA’s Inspections-On-Demand System: If you are experiencing a property maintenance issue in your rental property, Dispatch, DCRA’s inspections-on-demand system, was designed to give up-to-the-minute updates on inspection requests. When a customer submits a request for an inspection, an inspection is automatically scheduled within minutes, and Dispatch will push notifications to a customer until the service is complete. Visit dcra.dc.gov/dispatch to learn more and request your inspection.
  • DCRA Contractor Rating System: Our agency frequently hears the real-life experiences of District residents, oftentimes senior citizens, who pay for renovations and repairs, but don’t receive the work for which they have paid. To help District residents and businesses hire contractors and building professionals with more confidence, DCRA introduced the Contractor Rating System to help you inquire before you hire. Visit dcra.dc.gov/contractorratingsystem to learn more and begin looking for your next contractor.
  • Senior Homeowners Entering the Rental Housing Market: Many seniors own their homes and are looking for opportunities to earn extra income. In the District, there is a process for registering your business and becoming a licensed landlord. DCRA’s Small Business Resource Center will walk District seniors through the process. Visit business.dc.gov/sbrc to learn more.
  • Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs): For some seniors, your home may provide an opportunity to earn extra income or become residents at more affordable rates by establishing an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) on or within your property. An ADU is a dwelling unit that is secondary to the principal single household dwelling, but which has kitchen and bath facilities separate from the principal dwelling and may have a separate entrance. A detached ADU is the same concept, but the living area is in a separate structure, generally in a backyard cottage of some sort. To learn more, please contact our Homeowner’s Center by phone at (202) 442-9470.

For more information, please visit dcra.dc.gov. If you are a senior in need of assistance or want to help a senior in your family or community, contact DCRA via email at dcra@dc.gov, through the online inquiry form or during normal business hours using the live chat available on dcra.dc.gov or by phone at 202.442.4400, and we will get back to you in three business days or less.