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Legal Statutes: District of Columbia

UPDATED April 11, 2017

District of Columbia Statutes

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Subchapter V. Evictions; Retaliatory Action; and Other Matters

back to top§ 42-3505.01. Evictions.

(a) Except as provided in this section, no tenant shall be evicted from a rental unit, notwithstanding the expiration of the tenant's lease or rental agreement, so long as the tenant continues to pay the rent to which the housing provider is entitled for the rental unit; provided, that the nonpayment of a late fee shall not be the basis for an eviction. No tenant shall be evicted from a rental unit for any reason other than for nonpayment of rent unless the tenant has been served with a written notice to vacate which meets the requirements of this section. Notices to vacate for all reasons other than for nonpayment of rent shall be served upon both the tenant and the Rent Administrator. All notices to vacate shall contain a statement detailing the reasons for the eviction, and if the housing accommodation is required to be registered by this chapter, a statement that the housing accommodation is registered with the Rent Administrator.

(b) A housing provider may recover possession of a rental unit where the tenant is violating an obligation of tenancy and fails to correct the violation within 30 days after receiving from the housing provider a notice to correct the violation or vacate.

(c) A housing provider may recover possession of a rental unit where a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that the tenant, or a person occupying the premises with or in addition to the tenant, has performed an illegal act within the rental unit or the housing accommodation. The housing provider shall serve on the tenant a 30-day notice to vacate. The tenant may be evicted only if the tenant knew or should have known that an illegal act was taking place.

(c-1)(1) It shall be a defense to an action for possession under subsections (b) or (c) of this section that the tenant is a victim, or is the parent or guardian of a minor victim, of an intrafamily offense or actions relating to an intrafamily offense, as defined in § 16-1001(8), if the Court determines that the intrafamily offense, or actions relating to the intrafamily offense, are the basis for the notice to vacate.

(2) If, as a result of the intrafamily offense or the actions relating to the intrafamily offense that is the basis for the notice to vacate, the tenant has received a temporary or civil protection order ordering the respondent to vacate the home, the court shall not enter a judgment for possession.

(3) If, as a result of the intrafamily offense or the actions relating to the intrafamily offense that is the basis for the notice to vacate, the tenant provides to the court a copy of a police report written within the preceding 60 days or has filed for but has not received a temporary or civil protection order ordering the respondent to vacate the home, the court shall have the discretion not to enter a judgment for possession under this subchapter.

(d) A natural person with a freehold interest in the rental unit may recover possession of a rental unit where the person seeks in good faith to recover possession of the rental unit for the person's immediate and personal use and occupancy as a dwelling. The housing provider shall serve on the tenant a 90-day notice to vacate in advance of action to recover possession of the rental unit in instances arising under this subsection. No housing provider shall demand or receive rent for any rental unit which the housing provider has repossessed under this subsection during the 12-month period beginning on the date the housing provider recovered possession of the rental unit. A stockholder of a cooperative housing association with a right of possession in a rental unit may exercise the rights of a natural person with a freehold interest under this subsection.

(e) A housing provider may recover possession of a rental unit where the housing provider has in good faith contracted in writing to sell the rental unit or the housing accommodation in which the unit is located for the immediate and personal use and occupancy by another person, so long as the housing provider has notified the tenant in writing of the tenant's right and opportunity to purchase as provided in Chapter 34 of this title. The housing provider shall serve on the tenant a 90-day notice to vacate in advance of the housing provider's action to recover possession of the rental unit. No person shall demand or receive rent for any rental unit which has been repossessed under this subsection during the 12-month period beginning on the date on which the rental unit was originally repossessed by the housing provider.

(f)(1)(A) A housing provider may recover possession of a rental unit for the immediate purpose of making alterations or renovations to the rental unit which cannot safely or reasonably be accomplished while the rental unit is occupied, so long as:

(i) The plans for the alterations or renovations have been filed with the Rent Administrator and the Chief Tenant Advocate;

(ii) The tenant has had 21 days after receiving notice of the application to submit to the Rent Administrator and to the Chief Tenant Advocate comments on the impact that an approved application would have on the tenant or any household member, and on any statement made in the application;

(iii) An inspector from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has inspected the housing accommodation for the accuracy of material statements in the application and has reported his or her findings to the Rent Administrator and the Chief Tenant Advocate;

(iv) On or before the filing of the application, the housing provider has given the tenant:

(I) Notice of the application;

(II) Notice of all tenant rights;

(III) A list of sources of technical assistance as published in the District of Columbia Register by the Mayor;

(IV) A summary of the plan for the alterations and renovations to be made; and

(V) Notice that the plan in its entirety is on file and available for review at the office of the Rent Administrator, at the office of the Chief Tenant Advocate, and at the rental office of the housing provider; and

(v) The Rent Administrator, in consultation with the Chief Tenant Advocate, has determined in writing:

(I) That the proposed alterations and renovations cannot safely or reasonably be made while the rental unit is occupied;

(II) Whether the alterations and renovations are necessary to bring the rental unit into compliance with the housing code and the tenant shall have the right to reoccupy the rental unit at the same rent; and

(III) That the proposal is in the interest of each affected tenant after considering the physical condition of the rental unit or the housing accommodation and the overall impact of relocation on the tenant.

(B) As part of the application under this subsection, a housing provider shall submit to the Rent Administrator for review and approval, and to the Chief Tenant Advocate, the following plans and documents:

(i) A detailed statement setting forth why the alterations and renovations are necessary and why they cannot safely or reasonably be accomplished while the rental unit is occupied;

(ii) A copy of the notice that the housing provider has circulated informing the tenant of the application under this subsection;

(iii) A draft of the notice to vacate to be issued to the tenant if the application is approved by the Rent Administrator;

(iv) A timetable for all aspects of the plan for alterations and renovations, including:

(I) The relocation of the tenant from the rental unit and back into the rental unit;

(II) The commencement of the work, which shall be within a reasonable period of time, not to exceed 120 days, after the tenant has vacated the rental unit;

(III) The completion of the work; and

(IV) The housing provider's submission to the Rent Administrator and the Chief Tenant Advocate of periodic progress reports, which shall be due at least once every 60 days until the work is complete and the tenant is notified that the rent unit is ready to be reoccupied;

(v) A relocation plan for each tenant that provides:

(I) The amount of the relocation assistance payment for each unit;

(II) A specific plan for relocating each tenant to another unit in the housing accommodation or in a complex or set of buildings of which the housing accommodation is a part, or, if the housing provider states that relocation within the same building or complex is not practicable, the reasons for the statement;

(III) If relocation to a rental unit pursuant to sub-sub-subparagraph (II) of this sub-subparagraph is not practicable, a list of units within the housing provider's portfolio of rental accommodations made available to each dispossessed tenant, or, where the housing provider asserts that relocation within the housing provider's portfolio of rental accommodations is not practicable, the justification for such assertion;

(IV) If relocation to a rental unit pursuant to sub-sub-subparagraph (II) or (III) of this sub-subparagraph is not practicable, a list for each tenant affected by the relocation plan of at least 3 other rental units available to rent in a housing accommodation in the District of Columbia, each of which shall be comparable to the rental unit in which the tenant currently lives; and

(V) A list of tenants with their current addresses and telephone numbers.

(C) The Chief Tenant Advocate, in consultation with the Rent Administrator, shall:

(i) Within 5 days of receipt of the application, issue a notice, which shall include the address and telephone number of the Office of the Chief Tenant Advocate, to each affected tenant stating that the tenant:

(I) Has the right to review or obtain a copy of the application, including all supporting documentation, at the rental office of the housing provider, the Office of the Chief Tenant Advocate, or the office of the Rent Administrator;

(II) Shall have 21 days in which to file with the Rent Administrator and serve on the housing provider comments upon any statement made in the application, and on the impact an approved application would have on the tenant or any household member; and

(III) May consult the Office of the Chief Tenant Advocate with respect to ascertaining the tenant's legal rights, responding to the application or to any ancillary offer made by the housing provider, or otherwise safeguarding the tenant's interests;

(ii) At any time prior to or subsequent to the Rent Administrator's approval of the application, make such inquiries as the Chief Tenant Advocate considers appropriate to determine whether the housing provider has complied with the requirements of this subsection and whether the interests of the tenants are being protected, and shall promptly report any findings to the Rent Administrator; and

(iii) Upon the Rent Administrator's approval of the application:

(I) Maintain a registry of the affected tenants, including their subsequent interim addresses; and

(II) Issue a written notice, which shall include the address and telephone number of the Office of the Chief Tenant Advocate, to each affected tenant that notifies the tenant of the right to maintain his or her tenancy and the need to keep the Chief Tenant Advocate informed of interim addresses;

(D) The housing provider shall serve on the tenant a 120-day notice to vacate prior to the filing of an action to recover possession of the rental unit that shall:

(i) Notify the tenant of the tenant's rights under this subsection, including the absolute right to reoccupy the rental unit, the right to reoccupy the rental unit at the same rate if the Rent Administrator has determined that the alterations or renovations are necessary to bring the rental unit into substantial compliance with the housing regulations, and the right to relocation assistance under the provisions of subchapter VII of this chapter;

(ii) Include a list of sources of technical assistance as published in the District of Columbia Register by the Mayor; and

(iii) Include a copy of the notice issued by the Chief Tenant Advocate pursuant to paragraph (1)(C)(iii)(II) of this subsection.

(E) Within 5 days of the completion of alterations and renovations, the housing provider shall provide notice, by registered mail, return receipt requested, to the tenant, the Rent Administrator, and the Chief Tenant Advocate that the rental unit is ready to be occupied by the tenant.

(F) Any notice required by this section to be issued to the tenant by the housing provider, the Rent Administrator, or the Chief Tenant Advocate shall be published in the languages as would be required by § 2-1933(a).

(2) Immediately upon completion of the proposed alterations or renovations, the tenant shall have the absolute right to reoccupy the rental unit. A tenant displaced by actions under this subsection shall continue to be a tenant of the rental unit as defined in § 42-3401.03(17), for purposes of rights and remedies under Chapter 34 of this title, until the tenant has waived his or her rights in writing. Until the tenant's right to reoccupy the rental unit has terminated, the housing provider shall serve on the tenant any notice or other document regarding the rental unit as required by any provision of Chapter 34 of this title, this chapter, or any other law or regulation, except that service shall be made by first-class mail at the address identified as the tenant's interim address pursuant to paragraph (1)(C)(iii) of this subsection.

(3) Where the renovations or alterations are necessary to bring the rental unit into substantial compliance with the housing regulations, the tenant may rerent at the same rent and under the same obligations that were in effect at the time the tenant was dispossessed, if the renovations or alterations were not made necessary by the negligent or malicious conduct of the tenant.

(4) Tenants displaced by actions under this subsection shall be entitled to receive relocation assistance as set forth in subchapter VII of this chapter, if the tenants meet the eligibility criteria of that subchapter.

(5) Prior to the date that the tenant vacates the unit, the Rent Administrator shall rescind the approval of any application under this subsection upon determining that the housing provider has not complied with this subsection.

(6) If, after the tenant has vacated the unit, the housing provider fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection, the aggrieved tenant or a tenant organization authorized by the tenant may seek enforcement of any right or provision under this subsection by an action in law or equity. If the aggrieved tenant or tenant organization prevails, the aggrieved tenant or tenant organization shall be entitled to reasonable attorney's fees. In an equitable action, bond requirements shall be waived to the extent permissible under law or court rule.

(g)(1) A housing provider may recover possession of a rental unit for the purpose of immediately demolishing the housing accommodation in which the rental unit is located and replacing it with new construction, if a copy of the demolition permit has been filed with the Rent Administrator, and, if the requirements of subchapter VII of this chapter have been met. The housing provider shall serve on the tenant a 180-day notice to vacate in advance of action to recover possession of the rental unit. The notice to vacate shall comply with and notify the tenant of the tenant's right to relocation assistance under the provisions of subchapter VII of this chapter.

(2) Tenants displaced by actions under this subsection shall be entitled to receive relocation assistance as set forth in subchapter VII of this chapter, if the tenants meet the eligibility criteria of that subchapter.

(h)(1) A housing provider may recover possession of a rental unit for the purpose of immediate, substantial rehabilitation of the housing accommodation if the requirements of § 42-3502.14 and subchapter VII of this chapter have been met. The housing provider shall serve on the tenant a 120-day notice to vacate in advance of his or her action to recover possession of the rental unit. The notice to vacate shall comply with and notify the tenant of the tenant's right to relocation assistance under subchapter VII of this chapter.

(2) Any tenant displaced from a rental unit by the substantial rehabilitation of the housing accommodation in which the rental unit is located shall have a right to rerent the rental unit immediately upon the completion of the substantial rehabilitation.

(3) Tenants displaced by actions under this subsection shall be entitled to receive relocation assistance as set forth in subchapter VII of this chapter, if the tenants meet the eligibility criteria of that subchapter.

(i)(1) A housing provider may recover possession of a rental unit for the immediate purpose of discontinuing the housing use and occupancy of the rental unit so long as:

(A) The housing provider serves on the tenant a 180-day notice to vacate in advance of his or her action to recover possession of the rental unit. The notice to vacate shall comply with and notify the tenant of the tenant's right to relocation assistance under the provisions of subchapter VII of this chapter;

(B) The housing provider shall not cause the housing accommodation, of which the unit is a part, to be substantially rehabilitated for a continuous 12-month period beginning from the date that the use is discontinued under this section;

(C) The housing provider shall not resume any housing or commercial use of the unit for a continuous 12-month period beginning from the date that the use is discontinued under this section;

(D) The housing provider shall not resume any housing use of the unit other than rental housing;

(E) Upon resumption of the housing use, the housing provider shall not rerent the unit at a greater rent than would have been permitted under this chapter had the housing use not been discontinued;

(F) The housing provider shall, on a form devised by the Rent Administrator, file with the Rent Administrator a statement including, but not limited to, general information about the housing accommodation, such as address and number of units, the reason for the discontinuance of use, and future plans for the property;

(G) If the housing provider desires to resume a rental housing use of the unit, the housing provider shall notify the Rent Administrator who shall determine whether the provisions of this paragraph have been satisfied; and

(H) The housing provider shall not demand or receive rent for any rental unit which the housing provider has repossessed under this subsection for a 12-month period beginning on the date the housing provider recovered possession of the rental unit.

(2) Tenants displaced by actions under this subsection shall be entitled to receive relocation assistance as set forth in subchapter VII of this chapter, if the tenants meet the eligibility criteria of that subchapter.

(j) In any case where the housing provider seeks to recover possession of a rental unit or housing accommodation to convert the rental unit or housing accommodation to a condominium or cooperative, notice to vacate shall be given according to § 42-3402.06(c).

(k) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, no housing provider shall evict a tenant on any day when the National Weather Service predicts at 8:00 a.m. that the temperature at the National Airport weather station will fall below 32 degrees fahrenheit or 0 degrees centigrade within the next 24 hours.

(k-1) Subsection (k) shall not apply:

(1) Where, in accordance with and as provided in subsection (c) of this section, a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that the tenant has performed an illegal act within the rental unit or housing accommodation;

(2) Where a court of competent jurisdiction has made a specific finding that the tenant's actions or presence causes undue hardship on the health, welfare, and safety of other tenants or immediate neighbors; or

(3) Where a court of competent jurisdiction has made a specific finding that the tenant has abandoned the premises.

(l) Expired.

(m) This section shall not apply to privately-owned rental housing or housing owned by the federal or District government with regard to drug-related evictions under subchapter I of Chapter 36 of this title.

(n)(1) If the occupancy of a tenant has been or will be terminated by a placard placed by the District government in accordance with section 103 of Title 14 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations for violations of Title 14 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations that threaten the life, health, or safety of the tenant, the tenancy shall not be deemed terminated until the unit has been offered for reoccupation to the tenant after the date that physical occupancy ceased.

(2) The Mayor shall maintain a registry of the persons, including their subsequent interim addresses, who were tenants at the time the building was placarded.

(3) At the time of the placarding, the Mayor shall provide a written notice to the tenants of the right to maintain their tenancy and the need to keep the Mayor informed of interim addresses. The notice shall contain the address and telephone number of the office maintaining the registry.

(4) Any notice required under this subchapter shall be effective when sent to the tenant at the address maintained in the registry.

(o)(1)(A) The Mayor shall create a moving and storage assistance program, whereby tenants displaced due to nonpayment of rent, who are ineligible to receive relocation assistance as set forth in subchapter VII of this chapter, shall be entitled to receive storage assistance for their personal property at the expense of the government of the District of Columbia for no longer than 90 days.

(B) The Department of Housing and Community Development shall administer the program.

(C)(i) The program shall be limited to 500 persons per fiscal year.

(ii) Priority for participation in the program shall be given to seniors, families with children, and veterans.

(D) No tenant shall be permitted to utilize the program more than once per fiscal year.

(E) The maximum amount of District of Columbia funding allowed per tenant household for storage assistance under this program shall be $750.

(F) For the purposes of this paragraph “storage assistance” includes moving a tenant's items out of the rental unit, loading, transportation, delivery to a storage facility, unloading at the facility, and paying the storage fees.

(2) This subsection shall not apply until its fiscal effect is included in an approved budget and financial plan.

(3)(A) The Mayor shall enter into a contract with one or more moving companies to load and transport to a storage facility the property of a tenant who qualifies for the program.

(B) The Mayor shall enter into a contract with one or more storage facilities to provide storage space for the property.

(C)(i) The Mayor shall authorize the facility storing the property to sell or otherwise dispose of the personal property stored under this subsection if the property is not retrieved by the tenant before the expiration of the 90-day period.

(ii) A tenant, the storage company selected to store the tenant's property, and the Mayor or Mayor's agent shall enter into an agreement that states that the storage company may sell, auction off, or dispose of the stored property of the tenant if the tenant does not reclaim his or her property within the 90-day period.

(D) A tenant shall have the option, upon expiration of the 90-day period, to privately enter into a contract with the storage company holding his or her property to continue storing the tenant's property at the tenant's expense. A tenant shall then be subject to the regular rules and policies of the storage company.

(E) The storage facility shall maintain contact information for tenants as well as 2 alternative contacts, if available. The storage facility shall attempt to contact a tenant and his or her alternative contacts by phone prior to the expiration of the 90-day period.

(F) If the storage company receives money as a result of property sold pursuant to this subsection, the storage company shall deduct the amount received from the District's storage bill.

(4) Tenants shall sign an agreement releasing the District of any and all liability due to damage or loss of property.

(5)(A) The Mayor shall create an application procedure for the program. As part of the application process, the tenant shall file the application as soon as possible upon notification by the United States Marshall that a writ of restitution has been ordered by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

(B) If the Mayor is not able to move the tenant's property prior to the execution of the writ of restitution, the eviction authorized by this section shall continue pursuant to the court order and the Mayor shall not be required to move and store the tenants property under this subsection.

(6)(A) The Mayor shall produce and make available to landlords an informational document detailing the procedures tenants may take to participate in the program.

(B) The Mayor shall maintain copies of the document in the Mayor's office, on the District's website, in the Office of the Tenant Advocate, and in any other location that the Mayor considers necessary to ensure that sufficient notification of the program is given to District residents.

(7) Any landlord, before applying for a writ of restitution, must deliver to the tenant, by next-day express mail, a copy of the informational document created by the Mayor pursuant to paragraph (6)(A) of this subsection.

(8) Tenants shall have the right to enter the storage facility throughout the 90-day period for the purpose of removing property.

(9)(A) The Mayor, pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2, shall issue rules within 90 days of April 15, 2008, to implement the provisions of this subsection.

(B) The proposed rules shall be submitted to the Council for a 45-day period of review, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, and days of Council recess. If the Council does not approve or disapprove the proposed rules, in whole or in part, by resolution within this 45-day review period, the proposed rules shall be deemed approved.

(10) The Department of Housing and Community Development shall submit a report to the Council no later than January 1, 2009, and yearly thereafter. The report shall include:

(A) The number of applications submitted to the program;

(B) The number of participants accepted to the program;

(C) The number of participants successfully completing the program;

(D) Actual costs to the District of Columbia; and

(E) Recommendations for the program's continuation.

(p) No writ of restitution subject to this section shall be executed without at least 3 days notice following the order.

(July 17, 1985, D.C. Law 6-10, § 501, 32 DCR 3089; Feb. 24, 1987, D.C. Law 6-192, § 13(g), 33 DCR 7836; June 13, 1990, D.C. Law 8-139, § 11, 37 DCR 2645; Aug. 26, 1994, D.C. Law 10-164, § 2, 41 DCR 4889; Apr. 29, 1998, D.C. Law 12-86, title IX, § 901, 45 DCR 1172; D.C. Law 13-172, § 1312, 47 DCR 6308; Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-281, § 301, 48 DCR 1888; Oct. 19, 2002, D.C. Law 14-213, §§ 31, 32(a), 49 DCR 3140; June 22, 2006, D.C. Law 16-140, § 2(a), 53 DCR 3686; Mar. 14, 2007, D.C. Law 16-273, 2(b), 54 DCR 859; Apr. 15, 2008, D.C. Law 17-146, § 2, 55 DCR 2554; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 231, 56 DCR 1117; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-368, § 4(h)(1), 56 DCR 1338; Mar. 3, 2010, D.C. Law 18-111, §§ 2182, 7039, 57 DCR 181; Dec. 8, 2016, D.C. Law 21-172, § 2(c), 63 DCR 12959.)