D.C. Eviction Process

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Once the landlord begins the eviction process, it will take about 30 to 60 days to fully evict a tenant, including the time to provide notice and going to court.

Business License

Landlords are required to be licensed in D.C. If the landlord is renting without a business license, the eviction process will reveal the landlord’s licensing violation which can result in a $2000 - $4000 fine for a first offense (more for additional violations) (source).

30 Day Notice to Vacate

Before a landlord can begin an eviction proceeding, they must typically give the tenant a notice that says they have 30 days to vacate the apartment or correct the reason for eviction. The notice must have the following:
  • A statement detailing the factual basis on which the housing provider relies, including references to the specific provisions of Title V of the Act on which the claim for eviction is grounded;
  • The minimum time to vacate (under § 501 of the Act);
  • A statement that the housing accommodation is registered with the Rent Administrator, and the registration number, or a statement that the accommodation is exempt from registration, and the basis for the exemption; and
  • A statement that a copy of the notice to vacate is being furnished to the Rent Administrator including the address and telephone number of the RACD.
  • Additional notices are required when:
    • Eviction is for substantial rehabilitation, alteration, renovation, demolition, or discontinuance of use
    • The landlord is evicting to sell the apartment, including a certification showing the tenant was afforded an opportunity to purchase

Housing Code Violations

In the process of conducting an eviction, the tenant will have an opportunity to tell their side of their story in court. At this point, if a tenant is being evicted for non-payment of rent and can show that there are substantial housing violations, the landlord may be asked to fix those problems before they are granted permission to evict the tenant. The apartment is likely to be subject to an inspection to independently verify the condition of the apartment. For this reason, if there are housing violations, the landlord should work to fix them before beginning the eviction proceeding.

Opportunity to Purchase

D.C. has a relatively unique law called the Tenant’s Opportunity to Purchase Act (or TOPA). This law is meant to give tenants some rights when a landlord is seeking to sell an apartment house or building. Tenants have the opportunity to purchase the building at about the same price as the buyer that the landlord found. There are tight deadlines (some as short as 15 days) and complicated rules and processes for tenants to use the right. If a tenant has any interest in engaging with the TOPA process, they should talk to a lawyer immediately. The law works in stages, extending the process sometimes as long as 180 days. Tenants can back out at most stages, but failure to meet the strict deadlines at each stage with cause tenants to forfeit their rights, enabling landlords to continue with their sale and eviction. Details about the process are available here: https://ota.dc.gov/page/tenant-opportunity-purchase-act-topa. At the time of writing, legislation is moving through that exempts single-family homes from TOPA. Concerns that financiers were working with tenants to block and extort landlords prompted a reduction in the scope of the law to prevent potential abuses.

Landlord-Tenant Court

D.C. uses a landlord-tenant court to resolve housing disputes. This is very informal - almost like a mediation. Landlords and tenants typically come with their own evidence (copies of relevant text messages and emails, pictures of problems, etc.). The judge asks each side to tell their story and to provide any evidence to back up their claims if it's disputed.

Business License


Landlords are required to be licensed in D.C. If the landlord is renting without a business license, the eviction process will reveal the landlord’s licensing violation which can result in a $2000 - $4000 fine for a first offense (more for additional violations) (source).

30 Day Notice to Vacate


Before a landlord can begin an eviction proceeding, they must typically give the tenant a notice that says they have 30 days to vacate the apartment or correct the reason for eviction. The notice must have the following:

  • A statement detailing the factual basis on which the housing provider relies, including references to the specific provisions of Title V of the Act on which the claim for eviction is grounded;

  • The minimum time to vacate (under § 501 of the Act);

  • A statement that the housing accommodation is registered with the Rent Administrator, and the registration number, or a statement that the accommodation is exempt from registration, and the basis for the exemption; and

  • A statement that a copy of the notice to vacate is being furnished to the Rent Administrator including the address and telephone number of the RACD.

  • Additional notices are required when:

    • Eviction is for substantial rehabilitation, alteration, renovation, demolition, or discontinuance of use

    • The landlord is evicting to sell the apartment, including a certification showing the tenant was afforded an opportunity to purchase




Housing Code Violations


In the process of conducting an eviction, the tenant will have an opportunity to tell their side of their story in court. At this point, if a tenant is being evicted for non-payment of rent and can show that there are substantial housing violations, the landlord may be asked to fix those problems before they are granted permission to evict the tenant. The apartment is likely to be subject to an inspection to independently verify the condition of the apartment. For this reason, if there are housing violations, the landlord should work to fix them before beginning the eviction proceeding.

Opportunity to Purchase


D.C. has a relatively unique law called the Tenant’s Opportunity to Purchase Act (or TOPA). This law is meant to give tenants some rights when a landlord is seeking to sell an apartment house or building. Tenants have the opportunity to purchase the building at about the same price as the buyer that the landlord found.

There are tight deadlines (some as short as 15 days) and complicated rules and processes for tenants to use the right. If a tenant has any interest in engaging with the TOPA process, they should talk to a lawyer immediately. The law works in stages, extending the process sometimes as long as 180 days. Tenants can back out at most stages, but failure to meet the strict deadlines at each stage with cause tenants to forfeit their rights, enabling landlords to continue with their sale and eviction. Details about the process are available here: https://ota.dc.gov/page/tenant-opportunity-purchase-act-topa.

At the time of writing, legislation is moving through that exempts single-family homes from TOPA. Concerns that financiers were working with tenants to block and extort landlords prompted a reduction in the scope of the law to prevent potential abuses.

Landlord-Tenant Court


D.C. uses a landlord-tenant court to resolve housing disputes. This is very informal - almost like a mediation. Landlords and tenants typically come with their own evidence (copies of relevant text messages and emails, pictures of problems, etc.). The judge asks each side to tell their story and to provide any evidence to back up their claims if it's disputed.

Last Update : November 19, 2018 UTC

Comments discussing Eviction Process

8 days ago
0
votes

Landlord refuses to repair the a/c and heat system on front half of home hasn't worked since we moved in also won't repair the leaking roof asked for repairs and now he filed eviction on me however the property isn't in his name it's still in his late wife's maiden name their are several other major repairs needed like open sewer pipe in the back yard beside the patio master bathroom tub drains directly under the house cause pipes are all busted up from large tree growing up from the side of the

...read more
Renter in Haltom City, TX, USA
Eviction Process
10 months ago
2
votes

10 days notice so i went got a court date on30 of July
Renter in Gaffney, SC, USA
Eviction Process
9 months ago
1
votes

Can i file a complaint on my.landlord since he refused to give me the owners number?
Renter in Waialua, HI, USA
Eviction Process
9 months ago
0
votes

My landlord was find for building 3 studios without a permit, then sent me a notice to vacate in the mail is this legal?
Renter in Waialua, HI, USA
Eviction Process
9 months ago
1
votes

What's an "unconditional quit" notice mean?
Renter in San Antonio, TX, USA
Eviction Process
See a lawyer now! It means you're evicted.
Renter in Ridge, NY, USA

about 1 year ago
2
votes

My landlord has issued eviction mptices and then recinded them. Placing the tenant on a 3 month probationary period. Can they do that?
Renter in Somerset, KY, USA
Eviction Process