When one commitment leads to another.

It’s wedding season, and, along with being a great excuse to eat cake, a time when many couples consider purchasing a home. Depending on the market, some couples choose to purchase a house in the spring before their wedding (though they should consider re-titling the property afterwards), while others wait until after the wedding.  

One real estate agent suggests, “There are several things that you should avoid doing at the same time, if at all possible: changing jobs, having a baby, getting married and buying a home,” if you want to avoid extra stress.   

If you do decide to purchase a home close to your wedding date, check out these tips for keeping your finances in order, including documenting cash wedding gifts if you are planning on buying a home after the wedding, accounting for all gift funds used for a down payment, and budgeting in a “cushion” for home repairs and renovations before you set a price range for your home search.   

While President Obama will be changing jobs in January, he may have followed the advice of not making too many changes at once and held off on buying a new home. He is instead rumored to be leasing this house in the Kalorama neighborhood of D.C. at the conclusion of his term. It’s also not too late to snag the coveted 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (SE) address.

If you are also looking to rent in D.C. rather than buy, you may have frequently come across the terms “Dupont,” “Metro,” and “Busboys and Poets” in D.C. rental listings. According to Zillow, these are some of the terms most often used to lure renters in the District. For some reason, the phrase “overpriced” never seems to show up in listings.  

Finding an apartment in D.C. can be challenging, but what if you have a roommate who also happens to be your landlord? One group of five women managed to make this arrangement work in the H Street neighborhood, even during a renovation of the rowhouse.  

If you do rent from a landlord who is also your roommate, it may feel different than a traditional landlord/tenant relationship but you still maintain your rights as a tenant under the law. The landlord doesn’t gain additional rights – for example, they can’t evict you just to rent to someone they like better or use “self-help” to evict (like dumping a tenant’s belongings and changing the locks) – but you also want to make sure that any issues that are important to you (like the right to sublet your portion of the property) are clearly laid out in your written lease.

When unpleasant issues arise in your apartment, such as the presence of mold, it’s good to know your rights as a tenant and how to get your landlord to take care of the issue.  For this particular issue, your landlord needs to let you know if they have discovered mold inside the property in the past three years (unless it has been professionally remediated), check out any suspected mold within a week of your request, and, if there is a problem, fix it within 30 days. If this doesn’t happen, make sure to read up on your rights under D.C. law so you can take action. Landlords should read up on this as well.

While each piece of property is generally seen as a unique snowflake under the law, the facades of D.C. properties generally have one feature in common – the use of brick.  The home builders of D.C. have clearly taken the lessons from the Three Little Pigs to heart.  In fact, according to a recent post by the DMPED, over 75% of home facades in D.C. are brick and over 90% of homes in Ward 1 (home to Forster Law Firm) are brick. The further that you get from the city core, the more diversity in building materials you will see.  

Another interesting quirk present in D.C.’s housing stock is the presence of homes that, originally, weren’t homes at all. 

If you walk around D.C., particularly in areas like Capitol Hill, you will likely notice a number of homes with oversize bay windows, decorative overhangs, and corner-facing doors – all signs that the property was once used for retail. Shops, grocery stores, and service businesses used to bustle with activity on these streets – however, after their leases lapsed and the default zoning changed to residential use in 1958, many of these retail shops in D.C. were converted to homes.

This is starting to change, as D.C. passed an updated zoning code in January 2016, which goes into effect in September.  The updated zoning code allows for new retail stores under certain conditions to open in residential areas. In the future, accomplishing your errands by simply walking down the street may get even easier.

Wishing you a fantastic Summer, 

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