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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.

  • To access legal assistance and information on tenant rights, call the Office of the Tenant Advocate at (202) 719-6560, Monday to Friday, from 9 AM to 5 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 Buildings using their online form, emailing, live chatting with us on, or calling (202) 671-3500 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.

  • 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 Buildings’ (DOB) 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. ​

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 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


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 9 AM to 5 PM at (202) 719-6560.


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 Eviction Tutorial Videos.

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 Buildings (DOB). 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 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Or, you can email the team using this form.

This page only covers resources available through us—DC Government—and our contractors. It was last updated in October 2023.

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

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