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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Help for DC Tenants

Under the terms of the DC Health Emergency declared by Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) on March 11, 2020, District residents cannot be evicted or charged late fees until Dec. 9. Landlords must offer a payment plan to any tenant in arrears to help them become current.

To be eligible for a payment plan, a tenant must:

  • have a current residential lease agreement;
  • notify the landlord or property manager of an inability to pay all or a portion of the rent.

Landlords are required to:

  • notify all tenants of plan availability and process;
  • establish applicant procedures which may include requiring a tenant to provide supporting documentation;
  • provide for an application process online or by telephone.

The housing provider and tenant create their own payment plan agreement. However, terms must be:

  • be in writing;
  • be for the payment of gross rent and any other amounts coming due under the lease agreement;
  • be for a minimum term of one year unless the tenant requests a shorter term;
  • provide for equal monthly installments for the duration of the payment plan unless the tenant agrees to a different payment schedule;
  • waive any fee or penalty accruing under a payment plan;
  • permit a tenant to pay an amount greater than the monthly amount provided for in the payment plan; and
  • not require any lump sum payment.

After an agreement has been reached, there are additional requirements for housing providers. A housing provider shall:

  • not report any negative information about a tenant under a payment plan to a credit bureau;
  • provide that an eligible tenant does not lose any rights under the payment plan;
  • approve each payment plan application if the tenant can demonstrate financial hardship resulting directly or indirectly from the public health emergency, regardless of an existing delinquency or a future inability to make rental payments established before the public health emergency began;
  • Keep copies of all approved or rejected plan applications for three (3) years; and
  • At the request of the tenant, provide a copy of a payment plan to the Rent Administrator at the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Rental Accommodations Division.

A tenant whose payment plan application is denied may file a written complaint with the Rent Administrator who will review the complaint for completeness and then refer the complaint to the DC Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) for adjudication.

Here is a tenant complaint form. It must be filled out, signed, dated and include copies of relevant and supporting documentation.

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