Attorney General Peter Nickles is making a list ofD.C.'s delinquent landlords and he's already scratched one name off.

For the better part of the past decade, the 1,500 residents of Marbury Plaza in Southeast have battled their landlord to fix commonplace amenities. Many residents have been without air conditioning during this sweltering summer; the central air is broken. '

In the winter, they've stepped out of cold water and into frigid air, suffering from broken water heaters and a broken down heating system.

"It has been a death trap," said Steve Raikin, an attorney representing the tenants. In 2005, a laundry room explosion killed a 2-year-old girl and her mother. It left 19 people injured. Tenants have sued. Some stopped paying their rent to the landlord, and instead had their monthly checks deposited into an escrow account controlled by the city.

Management company UIP Property Management and the landlord A&A Marbury LLC, a subsidiary of the Lighthouse Group, said they had a $5 million loan for renovations, but the bank wouldn't let them release it until the tenants dropped their lawsuits.

Last week, Nickles stepped into the fray and forced the tenants and management to the bargaining table. They reached an agreement in which Nickles will assume control of the $450,000 in the escrow account. He will release the cash only when the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs clears the building of hundreds of citations.

"If they screw around on this, they can expect trouble from me," Nickles told The Washington Examiner, referring to the landlord. "I'm not a bashful guy, and I will come down hard."

Despite Nickles' enthusiasm, Marbury Plaza Tenants Association head April Goggans remains only "cautiously optimistic." Years of mistrust have built up, she said. "We just want to make sure no one is unprotected and the repairs are made in a meaningful way."

Raikin described Nickles' maneuvering as "historic." He said the settlement "may well become a model for other jurisdictions around the country." A lawyer representing A&A Marbury did not return calls for comment.

Nickles said this is just the beginning. "I may now jump into a lot of these cases," he said. "I get tagged on similar cases almost daily."