information about tenant rights in DC

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What rights does a tenant have in DC?

If someone rents the place where they live, they’re a tenant. Learn more about the rights of tenants in DC from the District of Columbia’s Tenant Bill of Rights, which is available in multiple languages and covers the following topics in detail:

I need to talk to someone. Who can I call? 

  • If you need help immediately, call 311. If you’re experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911.

  • If you can wait until business hours to access legal assistance and information on tenant rights, call the Office of the Tenant Advocate at (202) 719-6560. They are open Monday to Friday, from 8:45 am to 4:45 pm. Or, you can email the team using this form. If you leave a voicemail or send an email, you should hear back from someone within one business day.

  • For questions or concerns about the physical condition of the home you rent or whether your home has been licensed and inspected, contact the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs using their online form, emailing dcra@dc.gov, live chatting with us on dcra.dc.gov, or calling (202) 442-4400 during normal business hours. They are open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and Thursday 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.

What rights do tenants at least 62 years old and tenants with disabilities have in DC?

Tenants who are at least 62 years old and tenants with disabilities have additional rights. Learn more about these additional rights from the Office of the Tenant Advocate, including protections against rent increases, surcharges, eviction, discrimination, and more.

Notify your landlord, property manager, or other housing provider by completing a notice in English or Spanish and submitting it to them. If you have any questions about how to notify your housing provider, contact the Department of Housing and Community Development at (202) 442-9505 or dhcd.rad@dc.gov. Or, you can mail your question to:

Department of Housing and Community Development

Housing Regulation Administration

Rental Accommodations Division

1800 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, S.E.

Washington, D.C. 20020

What rights and protections does a tenant have in DC during the COVID-19 public health emergency?

The Office of the Tenant Advocate has put together a resource on the rights and protections of tenants during the emergency. The resource is available in multiple languages and touches on the following topics:

This page only covers resources available through us—DC Government—and our contractors. It was last updated in May 2021.

Keywords: what are my rights, elderly, elder, older adult, older tenant, evicted, legal help, home maintenance, repairs, pests, rent, renting, renters rights

  • rent increases, collection, payment plans, and forms of payment

  • evictions

  • utility services and late fees

  • utility payment plans

  • deadlines to exercise tenant and tenant association rights

  • tenant notices of intent to vacate or leave

  • landlord access to units

  • cleaning of common areas

  • requirement of masks in residential buildings

  • amenity fee refunds at rent-controlled units

  • tenant association operations

  • court procedures

  • operations of other government services including DC Council offices, budget hearings, housing inspections, the Rental Accommodations Division, the Conversion and Sales Division, and the Department of Energy and Environment

How can a tenant access legal assistance?

The Office of the Tenant Advocate provides free advice and other legal services to tenants having disputes with their landlord. Residents can call the office Monday to Friday from 8:45 am to 4:45 pm at (202) 719-6560. The office is closed to walk-in appointments due to the COVID-19 health emergency.

 

Residents who call the Office of the Tenant Advocate should leave a voicemail message or have an initial conversation with a staff person. Then, a case manager or attorney-advisor will call them back within one business day to determine their next steps.

What should tenants know about the eviction process?

Tenants can learn more about the reasons an eviction is and is not allowed, and the correct process for all evictions from The Office of the Tenant Advocate’s Short Guide to Evictions.

What should tenants do if the home they rent is in disrepair?

Landlords must maintain their rental properties to meet DC housing code and property maintenance standards. This includes minimum requirements for lighting, ventilation, space, heating, sanitation, protection from the elements, and safety.

 

If the home they rent is in disrepair, residents should report suspected housing code violations to their landlord or property manager. If the landlord or property manager does not address the issue, you can request a housing inspection through the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). An inspection will be scheduled within one day for life/safety issues and within 3 business days for other issues.

How can I learn more about my rights as a tenant?

Tune into the Office of the Tenant Advocate's YouTube channel with helpful tutorial videos on topics, such as the eviction process, mold, housing code violations, rent increases, and landlord entry.

I have a question that’s not covered here. Who can I contact?

Call the Office of the Tenant Advocate at (202) 719-6560. They are open Monday to Friday, from 8:45 am to 4:45 pm. Or, you can email the team using this form.

  • leases

  • security deposits

  • what information must be shared when you apply to rent a unit

  • rental payment receipts

  • rent increases

  • building conditions

  • lead paint

  • mold

  • quiet enjoyment

  • landlord retaliation

  • discrimination

  • rights of tenants to organize

  • the sale or conversion of a rental unit

  • relocation assistance

  • eviction

How can tenants check that the home they rent (or want to rent) is licensed and inspected?

Whether renting a single room in a private home or an entire dwelling, landlords must have their rental property licensed and inspected before renting. Tenants should verify that a property has a valid license to do business before renting it. Licenses are only issued following an inspection—ensuring that a property is safe for someone to live in. You may verify that a property has a valid business license using Scout, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ (DCRA) online consolidated database. Create or use your existing Access DC account, enter the property address and search, and select “Licenses” to check if there’s an up-to-date license associated with a property. ​