Inaugural Housing Madness

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Dec. 1 2008 3:00 PM

Inaugural Housing Madness

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Notwithstanding the limited availability of tickets, the swearing-in of President Barack Obama on Jan. 20 is expected to draw as many as 5 million visitors to Washington, D.C., during inauguration week. That's more than eight times the local population. With hotel rooms scarce and expensive, city residents are scrambling to rent out their homes, sofas, or driveways to total strangers. One three-bedroom house in Virginia reportedly leased for $57,000, and Web sites have popped up hawking house rentals as far afield as Glen Burnie, Md., (a Baltimore suburb 29 miles north of the capital). At the moment, Craigslist.org lists more than 1,000 classified ads for "sublets and temporary" housing with the keyword "inauguration." 

Recognizing that it would be impossible to enforce the usual licensing regulations for these housing arrangements, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty last month issued an executive order temporarily waiving such restrictions during the second half of January (see Pages 3 and 4). The D.C. Department of Consumer Affairs posted a sample lease agreement that ad hoc landlords might offer temporary tenants (below and on Page 2).

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Still available: an "architect's home" with flat-screen TV and stocked bar on the city's swank Embassy Row ($50,000) or a more modestly priced four-bedroom row house in "centrally located" Dupont Circle ($25,000). Too steep?  This couple will share an efficiency apartment (bring your own sleeping bag) with "whomever can bring the best party favors."

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