This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information.
This page was last updated on Sep 13th, 2022. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.
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Yes, the D.C. Council passed emergency legislation prohibiting evictions during the state of emergency. Law enforcement may not remove tenants from their homes, even if there is an existing eviction order against them.
The D.C. Council does let landlords evict tenants when a judge finds them guilty of threatening behavior (including assault or unlawful possession of a firearm).
Eviction cases may still proceed through the courts, check here for more updates.
The protections means that during the emergency in Washington, D.C.:
Yes, Washington, D.C. renters still need to pay rent during the emergency, but they cannot be evicted for nonpayment. Landlords also cannot raise rents and cannot charge late fees during the emergency period.
If you cannot pay rent based in part on COVID-related hardships, your landlord must offer you a payment plan.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
Most Washington, D.C. renters cannot be removed from their homes during the emergency period.
Once the emergency period ends, landlords can begin to enforce evictions against renters once again.
Landlords in D.C. may be able to evict a tenant who threatens the bodily harm of their neighbors (like with assault or illegal possession of a firearm).
If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.
Washington, D.C. utility providers cannot shut off water, natural gas, or electricity because of nonpayment during the emergency.
Renters still must pay their utility bills. If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
Tell your landlord about any repairs needed, particularly if they affect your health and safety.
The emergency may delay your landlord's ability to make repairs, but if they are urgent you should call your landlord to make the repairs as soon as possible.
Emergency repairs could be for problems with:
If your landlord doesn't make the repairs promptly, send them a written letter or email about the need for emergency repairs (and keep a copy of this communication).
You may be able to break your lease if you can come to an agreement with your landlord.
Your lease is still valid despite the emergency period.
However, you can talk to your landlord to see if they will agree to let you leave early. If they agree, be sure to get the agreement in writing.
Also, you can review your lease. It may have a part that lets you end the lease early in times of financial difficulty. If your lease has this kind of part, you might be able to break the lease (in some cases penalty-free).
Contact a legal help organization to help defend yourself.
It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without first going to court and getting an eviction order. To remove you from your home, a landlord must take you to court by filing an eviction lawsuit, win the case, and getting an eviction order from the court.
Legal aid groups might be able to provide you with full representation, or other legal organizations can give you information or brief advice.
All hearings in Washington, D.C., are paused until at least May 15, 2020. Check with the D.C. courts for updates.
Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.
Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?
If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)
If you are behind on rent, you can get help from your local Rental Assistance program. This is a government service to help people who owe rent or utility bills.
Especially if you are behind on rent because of COVID-19 hardships, your local Rental Assistance (or Rent Relief) program can help you.
Find your local Rental Assistance program at your Get Help page here.
Local governments set the rules about who is eligible for rent relief. Most programs focus on people who have suffered COVID-19 hardships.
You can talk to your local Rental Assistance program to learn their eligibility rules.
You may have to show your household income, or if you are on other benefits programs like SNAP.
You may also have to show that you are at risk of homelessness or eviction if you don't get rental assistance.
Many local Rental Assistance programs are open to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many programs do not even ask about immigration status.
Check with your local Rental Assistance program to make sure about eligibility rules and immigration.
Most Rental Assistance programs let landlords apply.
Either a renter or a landlord can start the application.
The landlord will have to fill in as much information they have about the amount of money needed, and the eligibility for the program. The tenant may have to fill in the rest of the information.
Find legal groups that can help you with housing problems, landlords, roommates, Section 8, domestic violence, discrimination, and more.Find Legal Services
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