An Office of Attorney General lawsuit against the local property manager at Waterside Apartments alleges the manager allowed a white male tenant to harass and scream racist comments to female tenants at Waterside Tower Apartments in southwest D.C. (Courtesy of Waterside Tower Apartments/UDR)
An Office of Attorney General lawsuit against the local property manager at Waterside Apartments alleges the manager allowed a white male tenant to harass and scream racist comments to female tenants at Waterside Tower Apartments in southwest D.C. (Courtesy of Waterside Tower Apartments/UDR)

D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb recently filed a lawsuit against a local property manager for what his office alleges was the property manager鈥檚 part in fostering a hostile housing environment for Black female tenants. 

The 15-page lawsuit, filed in D.C. Superior Court on Jan. 31, alleges that UDR, Inc., the property manager violated the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (DCHRA) and the Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA) when it knowingly allowed Gueorgui Iskrenov, a white male tenant, to repeatedly harass and yell racial epithets at Black female tenants at Waterside Tower Apartments in Southwest D.C.聽聽

In court filings from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) obtained by The Informer, the tenants filing the suit against UDR are identified as Ms. G. and Ms. M.

In 2021, Ms. G and Ms. M filed housing discrimination complaints with the D.C. Office of Human Rights (OHR), alleging that UDR allowed Iskrenow to carry on with his attacks because of their race and sex. OHR found probable cause for discrimination and referred the case to the D.C. Office of the Attorney General. 

In their lawsuit, OAG is seeking a jury trial and, ultimately, a declaration that UDR violated DCHRA and CPPA, an injunction prohibiting UDR from making such violations, restitution and damages for victims, and civil penalties. 

鈥淩esidents in the District of Columbia are legally entitled to live in homes free of persistent, hostile, discriminatory behavior, and it is against the law for property managers to facilitate a hostile housing environment,鈥 Schwalb said. 

鈥淲aterside Towers tenants made every effort to alert UDR leadership of Gueorgui Iskrenov鈥檚 disgusting, hateful, and dangerous behavior, and yet UDR stood by silently as its tenants suffered pervasive, traumatizing harassment,鈥 he continued. 鈥淭he Office of the Attorney General will continue to aggressively enforce laws designed to protect tenants from such egregious misconduct.鈥

Several Months of Harassment, and No Response

Last year, a jury found Iskrenov, then 33, after a three-day trial in D.C. Superior Court.  

Ms. G. and Ms. M., according to the lawsuit, notified Waterside Towers Apartments on separate occasions about Iskrenov鈥檚 threats of physical violence and yelling of racial slurs. 

Such criminal activity, according to the lawsuit, violates a crime-free housing addendum in Waterside Towers Apartments leases.  

Mrs. M Deals With Racism, Shoving, Violent Threats

In April 2020, just weeks after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) declared a public health emergency, Ms. M. made initial contact with an unmasked Iskrenov while riding the elevator with him and his pit bull. She attempted to leave the elevator after the pit bull jumped on her. According to the lawsuit, Iskrenov then blocked her. After Ms. M. forced her way out of the elevator, Iskreov yelled 鈥淏lack b—h,鈥 鈥渘—-r,鈥 鈥渃–t鈥 and 鈥淏lack Lives Matter n—-r.鈥

According to the lawsuit, UDR didn鈥檛 follow up with Ms. M鈥檚 complaint, even after Iskrenov accosted Ms. M. again in front of a UDR employee. That incident ended with Ms. M. calling the police. Throughout the next several weeks, Iskrenov, on separate occasions, shoved Ms. M. and drove past her in the building parking garage while forming his hand into the shape of a gun and pointing it at her. 

Ms. M. remained unsuccessful in her attempts to petition UDR for assistance, with UDR delaying meetings and forwarding her emails to their attorney. This happened even as she collected Iskrenov鈥檚 name and apartment number on her own. The harassment continued under UDR鈥檚 watch, the lawsuit alleges, until October 2020, when Iskrenov voluntarily moved out of Waterside Towers Apartments. 

Ms. G. Tells Her Story

Less than three months before leaving Waterside Towers Apartments, Iskrenov launched a similar campaign against Ms. G, who by that time had been living in the complex for two years.

During the summer of 2020, Iskrenov nearly struck Ms. G. with his car when he, according to the lawsuit, accelerated toward her as she was crossing in a pedestrian crosswalk. Shortly after, he rolled down his window, yelled racial slurs at Ms. G, and spat in her face. 

Ms. G. verbally reported the incident to UDR and the police on the same day. Ten days later, after receiving no response, Ms. G. circled back with an email to four members of UDR鈥檚 management staff. She described her July 20, 2020 encounter with Iskrenov, provided his name and identified his vehicle. 

Days later, UDR鈥檚 attorney followed up requesting that future correspondence goes to them. 

Iskrenov was later arrested and ordered to stay away from Ms. G. Even so, he continued to harass her. The lawsuit mentions an August 2020 incident during which Iskrenov approached Ms. G. while she was talking to another neighbor, stood directly in front of her, glared at her, and paced back and forth in front of her several times. 

Ms. G and her representative at the Equal Rights Center subsequently reached out to UDR鈥檚 attorney about Iskrenov鈥檚 ongoing harassment. They also requested a change in apartments, all to no avail. 

An OAG staff member told The Informer Ms. M. and Ms. G. are filing separate suits against UDR and have been advised not to speak to the press. The Informer unsuccessfully attempted to gather comment from UDR.

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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