Evictions and case filings in DC are resuming gradually after a 19-month ban. The Council has complicated the process with new requirements, many of which are identified here. We understand that landlords may have additional questions and are glad to help navigate the process.
1. Get A Basic Business License & Register With RAD
To file an eviction case landlords must now have a current Basic Business License. This permanent change in the law can be problematic because tenants often block landlords from getting a license by refusing an inspection. Although there is a narrow exception to the license requirement for “extraordinary circumstances” that has to be litigated on a case-by-case basis. Landlords still must be registered or exempt from rent control to send a vacate notice to a tenant for any reason other than non-payment. It is important to remember that there are no automatic rent control exemptions, you must apply with the Rent Administrator.
2. Apply For STAY DC
If a tenant owes rent due after April 2020, a landlord must initiate and/or cooperate in a tenant’s application for rental assistance funds. If the landlord has not pursued or cooperated in an application, any nonpayment case will be dismissed.
3. Offer The Tenants A Payment Plan
Landlords are required to notify all tenants that they may be eligible for a payment plan for any rent due from March 2020, until July 2022. The eligibility standard is liberal and nearly all tenants will qualify. The plan must allow eligible tenants to repay rent in no less than 12 equal monthly installments. If a landlord does not offer such a plan, any court case will be dismissed.
4. Get Legally Compliant Notices
There are new notice requirements that landlords must meet before filing an eviction case. For example, a notice to quit is now required in all non-payment cases, regardless of whether there is a waiver in the lease. Previously, notices to quit needed to be in English and Spanish. Now, notices must be translated into the tenants’ primary language. In addition to a notice to quit, landlords must also send the tenant a new notice called a notice of intent to file an eviction case. However, the notice of intent can be sent at the same time as the notice to quit. Finally, there are new content requirements for notices including: language advising tenants that they cannot be evicted without a court order and they have the right to have their case decided by a judge or jury.
5. Comply With New Service Requirements
There are both permanent and temporary changes to service requirements. Among the permanent changes are requirements that service by posting be evidenced by a time/date stamped picture and that summonses be served 30 days in advance, instead of just 7 days. Temporary changes include a 60-day notice for non-payment of rent, instead of just 30 (or in some cases, no notice) and a 30 day notice in advance of a scheduled eviction, instead of 21. The new laws create delays and make evictions more difficult. Unfortunately, all changes could not be listed here given the number and complexity. For additional advice and information, contact us or set-up an appointment for a consultation using our online scheduling tool.