You already know that “The District” is not a state, but it has its own landlord-tenant laws just the same. A quick history lesson: in 1790, a law called the Residence Act was signed to approve that a location would be established and named after George Washington to serve as the permanent capitol of the United States. This would become Washington D.C., a district and not a state, to remain separate from the constantly blowing breezes of state politics.
At a Glance:
Late Fees: No limit; statutes are silent on the maximum amount a landlord may charge for lateness of rent.
Security Deposit: One month; the max permitted to collect for a security deposit in Washington D.C. is one month’s rent.
Returned Payment Fee Limit: No limit; D.C. has nothing written in statutes regarding limitations on the fee that may be charged when a payment is returned, unpaid by the bank.
Notice to Enter: No written statutes regarding the landlord’s right of entry.
Late Fee/Returned Check Fee:
Although Washington, D.C. is silent on the matters of late and returned check fees, it is a good practice to keep them “fair”. Consider 5% for a late fee, and $25-30 for a returned check fee. Charging too big of a fee could end up causing more trouble than the fee is worth.
Security deposits are governed by Title 14, Chapter 14-308 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations and D.C. Register. Besides not collecting more than an amount equal to one month rent, the security deposit must also be kept in an escrow account and this must be done within thirty days of receiving it. The terms surrounding the security deposit must clearly be stated either in the lease itself, or on a receipt. The tenant is entitled to the interest of a security deposit held for more than twelve months.
Returning a deposit must be done in accordance with Title 14, Chapter 14-309. After a tenants moves out and/or the termination of the tenancy, the landlord must provide back to the tenant within forty-five days the full amount of the security deposit collected. If there are damages, the landlord must then submit a list itemized with the costs of rectifying the damages. After the tenant receives the notice of damages, provided there is no dispute, the landlord will forward any balance that is left.
Service of these notices should be made by personal delivery or certified mail to the forwarding or last known address of the tenant.
Proper notice is the first phase in eviction, unless the lease includes a waiver of a notice. In that case, a landlord may go directly to court and file for eviction. Otherwise, for non-payment of rent or any lease violation, notice period is thirty days.
All states require the Lead Paint information and disclosure for all housing built prior to 1978. In addition to this, in D.C., it is required that all tenants receive a copy of the Chapter1-Code Enforcement Policy and Chapter 3 Landlord Tenant regulations.
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