District of Columbia Landlord Tenant Law: FAQs
Are there rent control/rent stabilization policies or laws in DC?
In DC, all landlords are governed by the Rental Housing Act of 1985. The District of Columbia does have rent stabilization policies.
Landlords should check with local housing officials, an attorney, or the rent control board for further information and to ensure compliance.
How much may I charge for rent?
In DC, all landlords are governed by the Rental Housing Act of 1985 (unless they are exempt or excluded from the Act). Landlords must register with the Housing Regulation Administration to ensure compliance with DC’s complex rent control system (which establishes a maximum amount of rent a landlord may charge for a rental unit).
Landlords should check with local housing officials, an attorney, or the rent control board for further information to ensure compliance.
What’s the maximum rent increase I can make?
Pursuant to the requirements of Section 202(a)(3) of the Rental Housing Act of 1985, D.C. Law 6-10; rent adjustments may not exceed 3.6%. Complete information regarding rent adjustments may be found at DC Certification of Rent Adjustment of General Applicability.
What is the maximum amount I can collect as a security deposit?
Under District of Columbia landlord-tenant law, landlords may not charge tenants more than 1 month’s rent as a security deposit, and this fee many only be collected once.
Are there requirements for where a security deposit must be held, for example, in a separate escrow account?
Under District of Columbia landlord-tenant law, landlords must place the security deposit in an interest bearing account . The terms of the security deposit must be in writing, and given to the tenant. If the premises has been leased for at least 12 months then interest must be paid to the tenant after lease termination.
May I charge an application fee, late rent charge or a returned payment fee?
There are no statutory limits placed on the collection of an application fee, returned payment or late fees. However, it is a good practice to keep the fees reasonable in relation to the costs they incur and not punitive.
Is it permitted to charge a per-diem late fee?
Although this is not prohibited, it tends to be a rare practice.
My tenant has moved out, what do I do with their security deposit?
Under District of Columbia landlord-tenant law, 45 days after lease termination, the landlord must either return the security deposit plus interest, if applicable, or notify the tenant in writing that all or part of the deposit will be used to cover expenses.
- The landlord must then send the tenant an itemized list of repairs and deductions that have been taken out of the security deposit.
- After the first notification, the landlord must return the balance of deposit, if any, to the tenant within 30 days.
What is a common problem where security deposits are concerned?
At times landlords may try claiming deductions for items that are often characterized by the court as normal wear and tear. This situation may be prevented by realistically evaluating each deduction, providing proof of damage as well as including repair receipts and pictures.
How can I end a Washington DC lease agreement?
Periodic leases such as month to month or quarter to quarter agreements require an advance notice of , 30 days when ending or renewing a lease. When a fixed term is used, (this is a lease with a definite beginning and ending date) no notice to terminate is necessary unless provided in the lease, however, the landlord is entitled to possession immediately upon the expiration of the term.
Are there circumstances where I am required to release a tenant from a lease agreement?
A landlord may be forced to release a tenant from a contractual agreement when the dwelling unit or premise is damaged and/or destroyed by fire or casualty not caused by the tenant, deeming the rental property unlivable, or If the tenant is called to active military duty. Additionally, a tenant may seek release from a rental agreement with the court when a landlord does not abide by the state’s landlord obligations.
My tenant has not paid rent; how much notice do I have to give a tenant in order to evict them?
Under District of Columbia landlord-tenant law, a landlord may evict a tenant without prior written notice in the case of non-payment of rent.
How long does the eviction process take?
As with any legal matter, exact timing is almost impossible as it depends on many factors. Overall, with no complications, the eviction process usually takes approximately 4-5 weeks.
Can I require my tenants to obtain renter’s insurance?
In DC, landlords are not permitted to require tenants to obtain rental insurance.
How do I tell if my tenant has “skipped” out of the apartment?
Often times it’s best to look for the obvious, such as removal of personal goods, whether or not the tenant has come back to the premises at any time during a one week period, and simply no food in the refrigerator. It’s extremely important to document all of the “proof” gathered in order to determine abandonment. When in doubt, if payment of rent has not been made, the landlord may always file for eviction.
Do I have the right to enforce no smoking in my rental property?
A landlord may establish a “No Smoking” policy by providing so in the Lease.
Do I have to give the tenant notice before I enter the rental property?
There are no statutory requirements limiting a landlord’s right to enter the leased premises. However, a landlord may not interfere with the tenant’s peace and enjoyment. Therefore, landlords should exercise caution and fairness when entering the leased premises. It’s best to give tenants adequate notice, unless an emergency requires immediate entrance.
How much notice does a landlord have to give a tenant to move out in the District Of Columbia?
The amount of notice a landlord must give a tenant before requesting that they move out in the District of Columbia depends on the type of rental agreement.
For tenants with a month-to-month rental agreement, the landlord must give the tenant at least 30 days notice before the end of the rental period.
For tenants with a lease agreement, the landlord must give the tenant notice in accordance with the terms of the lease agreement. If the lease agreement does not specify a notice period, the landlord must give the tenant at least 90 days notice before the end of the lease.
It’s important to note that the notice period may be shorter if the tenant has violated the lease or if the landlord intends to demolish, renovate or repair the rental unit.
How much can a landlord raise the rent in DC?
The average tenant’s rent rise is limited to the CPI-W percentage + 2%, but not to 10%. Rent increases for elderly or disabled renters are limited to the CPI percentage and cannot exceed 5%.
When can landlords evict in the District of Columbia?
Under District of Columbia landlord-tenant law, landlords can evict tenants for several reasons, including:
- Non-payment of rent: If a tenant fails to pay rent on time, a landlord can start the eviction process. However, landlords must first provide tenants with a written notice of rent due and allow them to pay the rent within a certain time frame before beginning the eviction process.
- Lease violation: If a tenant violates the lease agreement, such as by causing damage to the property or engaging in illegal activities, the landlord may initiate eviction proceedings. However, landlords must first provide tenants with a written notice of the lease violation and allow them to correct the issue within a certain time frame before starting the eviction process.
- Expiration of lease term: If a lease agreement has expired and the landlord and tenant have not renewed or extended the lease, the landlord can initiate eviction proceedings to reclaim possession of the property.
- Owner occupancy: If the landlord intends to occupy the property themselves or have a close family member move in, they can initiate eviction proceedings after providing the tenant with written notice.
- Sale of property: If the landlord intends to sell the property, they can initiate eviction proceedings after providing the tenant with written notice.
What must all the District of Columbia landlords adhere to?
All landlords in the District of Columbia are required to adhere to certain legal requirements, including:
- Complying with the D.C. Housing Code: Landlords must maintain their properties in compliance with the D.C. Housing Code, which sets minimum standards for habitability, safety, and sanitation.
- Providing written leases: Landlords must provide tenants with a written lease agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of the tenancy, including the rent amount, the length of the lease, and any other important provisions.
- Returning security deposits: Landlords must return a tenant’s security deposit at the end of the tenancy, minus any deductions for damages or unpaid rent, within 45 days after the tenant moves out.
- Providing notice before entering the rental unit: Landlords must provide tenants with reasonable notice before entering the rental unit, except in case of emergency.
- Disclosing lead paint hazards: Landlords of properties built before 1978 must provide tenants with information about the presence of lead-based paint hazards and disclose any known lead hazards in the rental unit.
- Providing smoke detectors: Landlords must provide smoke detectors in each rental unit and maintain them in working order.
- Complying with eviction laws: Landlords must follow the specific procedures and timelines required by law when initiating eviction proceedings against tenants.
Is the District of Columbia a landlord-friendly state?
The District of Columbia is known for having strong tenant protections, and as such, it may not be considered a landlord-friendly state. The District of Columbia has a comprehensive set of laws and regulations that are designed to protect the rights of tenants, including laws that address rent control, eviction procedures, and habitability standards.
For example, the District of Columbia’s rent control laws limits the amount that landlords can increase rent each year for certain types of rental properties. The eviction process in the District of Columbia is also regulated by law and requires landlords to follow specific procedures and timelines, which can make it difficult for landlords to quickly and easily remove tenants who are in violation of their lease agreement.
Furthermore, the District of Columbia has a Tenant Bill of Rights, which outlines additional rights and protections for tenants, including protections against retaliation and discrimination.
Disclaimer: The information provided herein is intended as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord tenant law. Information provided is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seek independent counsel for any specific issue.