State Laws

District of Columbia (D.C.) Landlord Tenant Laws

March 2, 2023

We’d love to connect with you.

Quick Facts

Required Disclosures 
  
Lead-based paint 
Pending petitions 
Surcharges 
Rent increases 
Rent control status 
Code violations 
Nonrefundable fees 
Housing accommodation conversion 
Ownership information 
Mold 
Tenant Bill of Rights 
Voter registration packet 
Security deposit receipt 
  
Rent and Fees   

Application Fees Limit: $50 
Rent Control: Yes 
Late Fee Limit: 5% of amount due 
Grace Period Minimum: 5 days 
   
Security Deposits   

Amount Limit: 1 month’s rent 
Interest: Yes 
Return Within: 45 days 
  
Entry  
 
Notice: 48 hours’ 
Permitted Times of Entry: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m
Fair Housing Protections 
  
Race  
Color   
National origin   
Religion   
Sex   
Familial status 
Disability 
Age 
Marital status 
Personal appearance 
Sexual orientation 
Gender identity/expression 
Family responsibilities 
Pregnancy 
Matriculation 
Political affiliation 
Source of income 
Sealed eviction record 
Status as a victim of an intrafamily offense 
Place of residence or business 
Homeless status 
  
Eviction Notices   

Rent Demand Notice: 30-day pay-or-quit notice 
Notice for Lease Violation: 30-day cure-or-quit notice 
Unconditional Notice to Quit: 30-day quit notice 

D.C. Landlord-Tenant Law 

Understand the DC essential landlord tenant laws before enforcing your own rental policies. Find more information in the D.C. law code.  

Required Disclosures 

Lead-based paint  

(Title X, Section 1018

Landlords in all 50 states must include information about lead-based paint hazards in the rental agreements for most properties built before 1978. Sellers and landlords must distribute an EPA-approved information pamphlet called “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” and disclose any known lead hazards in the property. These obligations were established by Section 1018 of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992. 

Pending Petitions 

(D.C. Code § 42-3502.22(b)(1)(B)

The landlord must disclose if a pending petition is filed by the tenant or housing provider that could affect the rental unit, such as petitions for further rent increases during the year. 

Surcharges 

(D.C. Code § 42-3502.22(b)(1)(C)

If there are any surcharges on rent for the rental unit, including capital improvement surcharges, the landlord must disclose these with their expiration dates. 

Rent Increases 

(D.C. Code § 42-3502.22(b)(1)(D), 42-3502.22(b)(1)(G)

Landlords must disclose the frequency with which any rent increases for the unit may be implemented.  

Additionally, landlords must provide tenants with a pamphlet published by the Rent Administrator that explains the laws and regulations governing rent increases in lay terminology.  

Rent Control Status 

(D.C. Code § 42-3502.22(b)(1)(E)

Landlords must disclose to tenants the rent-controlled or exempt status of the rental unit, its business license, and a copy of the registration or exemption claim. 

Code Violations 

(D.C. Code § 42-3502.22(b)(1)(F)

Landlords must provide tenants with copies of all housing and property maintenance code violation reports issued by the Department of Buildings for the unit within the last 12 months. Reports for violations more than 12 months ago that have not been abated must be included as well. 

Nonrefundable Fees 

(D.C. Code § 42-3502.22(b)(1)(H)

Landlords must disclose the amount of any nonrefundable application fees. This includes the amount of the security deposit, the interest rate on it, and how it will be returned. 

Housing Accommodation Conversion 

(D.C. Code § 42-3502.22(b)(1)(I)

If the housing accommodation is in the process of being converted to a condominium, cooperative, or other non-housing use, the landlord must disclose this fact.  

Ownership information 

(D.C. Code § 42-3502.22(b)(1)(J)

Landlords must disclose ownership information required by D.C. Code § 42-3502.05(f)

Mold 

(D.C. Code § 42-3502.22(b)(1)(K)

Landlords must disclose any information known about the presence of mold contamination in the rental unit or common areas in the past three years, unless the mold has been remediated by a certified and licensed professional. 

Tenant Bill of Rights 

(D.C. Code § 42-3502.22(b)(1)(L)

Landlords must provide a copy of the Tenant Bill of Rights published by the Office of the Tenant Advocate. 

Voter Registration Packet 

(D.C. Code § 42-3502.22(b)(1)(L)

This pamphlet published by the Rent Administrator should also include a voter registration packet developed by the District of Columbia Board of Elections. 

Security Deposit Receipt 

(14 DCMR § 306

According to DC security deposit laws, landlords must provide a receipt for all security deposits, unless the payment is made via personal check stating the purpose. The receipt should include the amount of the deposit, the date received, and the purpose of the payment. 

Rent and Fees 

  • Rent Due Date: There is no statute in D.C. specifying when rent should be due. However, it is typically due on the first of each month if not specified in the lease agreement. 
  • Application Fee Limit: $50 (42-3505.10(b)(1)). 
  • Rent Increases: The District of Columbia has a statewide rent control program called the Rent Stabilization Program. This program was established by the Rental Housing Act of 1985. It requires rental units to be registered as either subject to rent control or exempt (common exemptions include rental units that are Federally or District-subsidized, built after 1975, or owned by a person with fewer than four units) (D.C. Code § 42-3501.01, 42-3502). 
  • Late Fees: 5% of the amount due (D.C. Code § 42-3505.31(a)). Landlords may not charge interest on a late fee, deduct a late fee from a subsequent rent payment, impose a late fee more than once for one late payment, or evict a tenant based on the nonpayment of a late fee (D.C. Code § 42-3505.31(c)). 
  • Grace Period: 5 days (D.C. Code § 42-3505.31(b)(2)). 
  • NSF/Bounced Check Fee Maximum: There is no statute in D.C. specifying the service fee the landlord may charge if the tenant’s rent check bounces.  
  • Withholding Rent/Repair and Deduct: D.C. has no statute that explicitly gives tenants the right to repair and deduct if the landlord does not make necessary repairs. However, it is implied that tenants may withhold rent, as action against a tenant for doing so is considered retaliatory (DMCR § 14-4303.3). 

Security Deposits 

  • Deposit Limit: 1 month’s rent (14 DCMR § 308.2). 
  • Interest: Landlords are required to pay interest on security deposits. Deposits should earn the banking institution’s interest rate as of January 1 (for the first six months) and July 1 (for the next six months). At the end of the year, the landlord must post a notice in their lobby or leasing office specifying where the deposit is held and the interest rates applied throughout the year. This interest must be returned to the tenant upon termination of the tenancy (14 DCMR § 311.1). 
  • Return Within: 45 days (14 DMCR § 309.1). 
  • Deposit Location: Landlords in D.C. must keep security deposits in a separate interest-bearing escrow account at a financial institution in the District of Columbia insured by a federal or state agency (14 DCMR § 308.3). Funds collected must be deposited in the escrow account within 30 days of receipt (14 DCMR § 308.4). 
  • Withholding: Landlords in D.C. may withhold funds from the security deposit for the cost of any expenses provided for in the lease agreement (14 DMCR § 309.1). Landlords are not permitted to withhold funds for the replacement value of furniture or other items that have undergone ordinary wear and tear (D.C. Code § 42-3502.17(c)(1)). 

Tenant Screening and Fair Housing Protections 

Tenant screening in D.C. is highly regulated. Several screening laws are described here, but refer to the original text of the law for more details and regulations.  

Protected Classes 

  • Federal law prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, familial status, and disability (Title 24 USC § 3601-3607). D.C. law adds the following protected classes (D.C. Code § 2-1402.21, 2-1401.02): 
  • Age 
  • Marital status 
  • Personal appearance 
  • Sexual orientation 
  • Gender identity/expression 
  • Family responsibilities 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Matriculation 
  • Political affiliation 
  • Source of income  
  • Sealed eviction record 
  • Status as a victim of an intrafamily offense 
  • Place of residence or business 
  • Homeless status  

Rental Applications 

  • Before requesting any rental application, landlords must first provide written notice to all prospective tenants of the types of information the landlord will use to conduct tenant screening. This notice should list any specific criteria that will result in automatic denial and other criteria that could result in denial (D.C. Code § 42-3505.10(a)(1-4)). 
  • Landlords must also inform prospective tenants in writing of the approximate number of units available, the number of days it will take to respond to the application, and the tenant’s right to dispute any inaccurate information (D.C. Code § 42-3505.10(a)(6-8)). 
  • If a landlord fails to conduct a tenant screening report of a prospective applicant, they must refund the application fee within 14 days (D.C. Code § 42-3505.10(c)). 
  • If a landlord denies an applicant, they must provide a written notice including the grounds for the denial, a copy of any third-party information (credit reports, etc.), and statements that the renter has the right to dispute the accuracy of the information or file a complaint with the Office of Human Rights (D.C. Code § 42-3505.10(f)). 

Credit Reports 

  • If a landlord in D.C. uses a credit or consumer report, they must disclose the name and contact information of the reporting agency as well as a statement of the tenant’s right to obtain a free copy of the report if they are denied (D.C. Code § 42-3505.10(a)(5)). 
  • Landlords may not reject applicants solely based on credit score or lack thereof. However, landlords can use information within a credit report so long as it is directly relevant to the applicant’s fitness as a tenant (D.C. Code § 42-3505.10(e)(1)). 
  • D.C. landlords are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (15 USC § 1681), which outlines the responsibilities of landlords to protect tenant credit information. According to the Act, landlords may not share tenant credit information with anyone without a legal reason to view it. They must also investigate disputed information, dispose of credit reports after use in tenant screening, and notify applicants when their credit score or history was the reason for their denial. 

Criminal Histories 

  • Criminal background checks may be used during tenant screening in D.C., with restrictions. 
  • Landlords may not inquire about or consider a previous arrest if the arrest did not result in conviction (D.C. Code § 42-3541.02(a)). 
  • Landlords may not inquire about a pending criminal accusation or conviction before making a conditional offer (D.C. Code § 42-3541.02(b)(1)). After the conditional offer, landlords may only consider pending criminal accusations or convictions that occurred within the past seven years and that are one of several crimes listed in D.C. Code § 42-3541.02(d)
  • Before accepting an application fee, landlords must provide a written statement disclosing the eligibility criteria (criminal and otherwise) and a statement that the applicant may provide evidence suggesting inaccuracies in their criminal record (D.C. Code § 42-3541.02(c)(1)). 
  • D.C. landlords should follow HUD recommendations for using criminal background checks fairly. This includes avoiding blanket policies for denying applicants with criminal convictions, assessing applicants and their criminal histories on a case-by-case basis, and only denying an applicant when they demonstrate a risk to the safety of other residents or the property. 

Eviction Histories 

  • Landlords in D.C. may not ask about, require prospective tenants to reveal, or base an adverse action on a previous eviction lawsuit if the tenant won the judgment or if it was filed more than three years prior (D.C. Code § 42-3505.10(d)). 

Entry 

  • Advanced Notice: 48 hours’ (D.C. Code § 42-3505.51). 
  • Permitted Times: D.C. landlords may only enter at reasonable times. A “reasonable time” means between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., and not on a Sunday or federal holiday. Acceptable reasons for entry include inspections, repairs, decorations, alterations, renovations, improvements, services, showings, government-ordered work, or duty to keep the property safe from damage (D.C. Code § 42-3505.51(a)(2-3))). 
  • Emergency Entry: In case of an emergency, the landlord may enter without advance notice or consent (D.C. Code § 42-3505.51(b)(1)). 

Eviction Notices 

Evictions are complex legal processes often poorly understood by both parties. Before pursuing eviction in Washington D.C., consider hiring an experienced real estate attorney and be sure to review the D.C. eviction process in more detail.

  • Rent Demand Notice: 30 days to pay or quit. A landlord can only begin an eviction with this notice if the amount of rent due is at least $600 (D.C. Code § 42-3505.01(a-1)(1)). 
  • Notice for Lease Violation: 30 days to cure or quit (D.C. Code § 42-3505.01(b)). 
  • Unconditional Notice to Quit: 30 days to quit. According to the DC eviction process, this notice applies when a court has determined that the tenant has performed an illegal act in the rental unit (D.C. Code § 42-3505.01(c)).  

Other Laws and Facts about D.C. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get all the latest articles and information via email:

More in Learning Center

Announcements

Innago Releases Return Security Deposit Online Fea...

Renting your property to a stranger is risky. Even with the best tenant screenin...

September 18, 2023

Real Estate Investing

What Borrowers Should Know About Buydown Mortgages

A Borrower’s Guide To Buydown Mortgages  Real estate buyers have a variet...

April 18, 2024

Real Estate Investing

Comparative Market Analysis in Real Estate Using C...

A Guide To Comparables In Real Estate  Whether you’re interested in buying or...

April 15, 2024

Request Access

No monthly fee. No setup fee. No contract. Start streamlining your rental management process today.