Landlord Tenant Law


Landlord Tenant Law

Landlord and tenant laws in Washington D.C. or the District of Columbia provide tenants with the friendliest laws in the United States. A tenant with a good lawyer may prevent the mightiest landlord from evicting him from his restaurant, bar, business, office or home.


The D.C. Superior Court's LandLord Tenant Court requires a very knowledgeable lawyer. The Nawash Law Office fully understands the LandLord Tenant Court in Washington, D.C.

The Nawash Law Office provides comprehensive legal services beyond what is offered by many other landlord and tenant lawyers.

Call us before you lose your business or get evicted. We can prevent or stop evictions in most cases. Call at 202-776-7191.

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The tenant-landlord relationship is established by contract, which gives both the tenant and the landlord certain rights and obligations.

Important to understand the following in the District of Columbia:

1. LEASE: A written lease is not required to establish a tenancy. If there is one, the landlord must provide you with a copy of the lease and all addendums. The landlord must also provide you with copies of certain District housing regulations, including those for Landlord & Tenant relations. Certain lease clauses are prohibited, including waiver of landlord liability for failing to properly maintain the property. The landlord may not change the terms of your lease without your agreement. After the initial lease term expires, you have the right to continue your tenancy month-to-month, on the same terms, indefinitely. (14 D.C.M.R. �� 101, 106 & 300-399)

2. SECURITY DEPOSIT: The landlord must place your security deposit in an interest-bearing account. The landlord must post notices stating where the security deposit is held and the prevailing interest rate. Within 45 days after you vacate the apartment, the landlord must either return your security deposit with interest, or provide you with written notice that the security deposit will be used to defray legitimate expenses. The landlord must notify you of the date and time of the “move-out” inspection. (14 D.C.M.R. �� 308-311)

3. DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION: Upon receiving your application to lease an apartment, the landlord must disclose: (a) the applicable rent for the rental unit; (b) any pending petition that could affect the rent; (c) any surcharges on the rent and the date those surcharges expire; (d) the rent control or exempt status of the rental accommodation; (e)certain housing code violation reports; (f) the amount of any non-refundable application fee, security deposit, and interest rate; (g) any pending condo or coop conversion; and (h) ownership information in the registration form and the business license. The landlord must make this information accessible to you throughout your tenancy. Upon the tenant’s request once per year, the landlord must also disclose the amount of, and the basis for, each rent increase for the prior 3 years. (D.C. Official Code � 42-3502.22)

4. RECEIPTS FOR RENTAL PAYMENTS: The landlord must provide you with a receipt for any money paid, except where the payment is made by personal check and is in full satisfaction of all amounts due. The receipt must state the purpose and the date of the payment, as well as the amount of any money that remains due. (14 D.C.M.R. � 306)

5. RENT CONTROL: Unless the unit is exempt from rent control, the landlord may not raise the rent: (a) unless owner and manager are properly licensed and registered; (b) unless the premises substantially complies with the housing code; (c) more frequently than once every 12 months; (d) by more than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for an elderly or disabled tenant; (e) by more than the CPI + 2% for all other tenants. Any rent increase larger than (d) or (e) requires Rent Administrator approval of a landlord petition. You are entitled to receive a copy of, and you may challenge, any landlord rent increase petition. You may also challenge any rent increase implemented within the prior 3 years.

6. BUILDING CONDITIONS: The landlord must ensure that your unit and all common areas are safe and sanitary as of the first day of your tenancy.

7. QUIET ENJOYMENT: The landlord may make any necessary repairs, but the landlord may not unreasonably interfere with your “quiet enjoyment” of the premises. (D.C. Official Code � 42-3402.10)

8. RELOCATION ASSISTANCE: If you are displaced by a substantial renovation or rehabilitation, demolition, or the discontinuance of the housing use, you have the right to receive relocation assistance from your landlord. (D.C. Official Code � 42-3507)

9. EVICTION: The landlord may evict you only for one of ten specific reasons set forth in Title V of the Rental Housing Act of 1985. For example, you may not be evicted just because your lease term expires, or because the rental property has been foreclosed upon. Even if there is a valid basis to evict you, the landlord may not use “self-help” methods to do so, such as cutting off your utilities or changing the locks. Rather, the landlord must go through the judicial process. You must be given a written Notice to Vacate (except for non-payment of rent where you waived right to notice in your lease); an opportunity to cure the lease violation, if that is the basis for the action; and an opportunity to challenge the landlord’s claims in court. Finally, any eviction must be pursuant to a court order, and must be scheduled and supervised by the U.S. Marshal Service. (D.C. Official Code � 42-3505.01)