Virginia Team Cracks Down on Illegal Boarding Houses


A crackdown on illegal boarding houses in Fairfax County is showing some results.

A special strike team started work two months ago. They said they have received about 170 complaints, most of them from residents dealing with the consequences of overcrowded houses on their block.

The subsequent investigations have revealed everything from large estate homes being used as illegal boarding houses to homes so packed, even the exits are blocked, Fairfax officials said.

One boarding house in Springfield's Monticello Forest subdivision was cleared out after neighbors complained.

Of the strike team's 140 investigations so far, 16 landlords have been taken to court. Most are civil cases based on unsafe and overcrowded conditions.

But the owner of the Springfield home was fined $1,000 in criminal court on a charge of illegally running a boarding house. Strike team members said 32 cases have been closed, either through compliance or because problems were not found.

In Bailey's Crossroads, a fire revealed more than a dozen people living in a single family home, officials said. The strike team was called after firefighters found the front door padlocked and blocked with a large piece of furniture, county officials said.

While concerned residents are heartened by the strike team's work so far, they said they wonder whether homes that have been busted will eventually take on boarders once more.

The strike team has an answer for that concern. Even as they investigate new complaints, they are starting to revisit some of the first houses they inspected to make sure they still comply with occupancy, health and safety standards.

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