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Tenant's Rights from Eviction

November 1, 2017

The landlord may evict a tenant for only one of ten specific statutory reasons:

  • Nonpayment of rent;
  • Violation of an obligation of tenancy, of which the tenant failed to correct after notice;
  • Tenant performed an illegal act within the rental unit;
  • Landlord seeks in good faith to occupy the rental unit for personal use and occupancy;
  • Landlord sells rental unit to a party who seeks in good faith to occupy the rental unit for personal use and occupancy;
  • Landlord seeks to renovate rental unit in a manner in which tenant cannot safely occupy;
  • Landlord seeks to demolish rental unit;
  • Landlord seeks to substantially rehabilitate rental unit;
  • Landlord seeks to discontinue rental unit for housing and occupancy; or
  • Landlord seeks to convert rental unit to a condominium or cooperative after securing governmental approval.

Judicial process is required for all evictions. Furthermore, in all cases other than non-payment of rent, a filing with the Rental Accommodations Division (RAD) is required.

A tenant may not be evicted just because the initial lease term expires, or because the rental property has been foreclosed upon.

In order to evict a tenant, the landlord must go through the judicial process. The tenant must be given:

  • A written Notice to Vacate (except for non-payment of rent, if the tenant waived the right to notice in the lease);
  • An opportunity to cure the lease violation, if that is the basis for the action; and
  • An opportunity to challenge the landlord's claims in court.

Any eviction must be pursuant to a court order, and must be scheduled and supervised by the U.S. Marshals Service.

  • Self-help evictions (where the landlord attempts to evict a tenant without the involvement of the U.S. Marshals Service) are not allowed.
  • Contact the Metropolitan Police Department if a landlord attempts a self-help eviction.
  • If the tenant is being evicted due to non-payment of rent, the tenant has the right to avoid eviction by paying the total amount owed, as determined by the court, up until the time the eviction is executed.
  • After an eviction Writ is issued, the landlord may demand the full amount determined by the court (plus all fees and court costs) be paid in cash or certified funds.

Tenant who has been notified that the home they have been renting or that the apartment building that you have been renting is in foreclosure.

(Washington, DC) - As in many other parts of the country, the District of Columbia is experiencing an alarming rise in home foreclosures. Most other jurisdictions where tenants can be evicted along with the property owner, foreclosure is not a valid reason to evict tenants in the District. The Rental Housing Act of 1985 (DC Code 42-3505.01) sets forth 10 valid reasons for evicting tenants. DC Code 42-3505.01(a) states that "except as provided in this section, no tenant shall be evicted from a rental unit & so long as the tenant continues to pay the rent."

Foreclosure is not among the 10 valid reasons. Rather, the bank or other financial institution becomes the new landlord, and there is no change in the tenant's rights. Thus it is illegal to evict tenants in the District simply because of a foreclosure!

If you are a tenant who has been notified that the home or condo that you have been renting or that the apartment building that you have been renting in foreclosure, you should take the following steps:

  • Let the new owner know you are there and wish to stay. If you have gotten notice from a bank or from the bank's attorney about the foreclosure, make sure they know that you are a tenant. If the notice says you are being evicted due to foreclosure, inform the contact person
  • Find out where you should start sending your rent. If your home has a new owner, including a bank, you should start sending your rent to the new owner. Try to contact the bank or its attorney and ask for an address where you can pay rent.
  • What to do if you don't know who to send your rent. Don't spend the rent money! Sooner or later you must pay all the rent you owe, or you may be subject to eviction for nonpayment of rent. You may open a separate bank account only for your rent money, until you find out where to send the rent.
  • Keep copies of all documents. It is very important that you keep copies of all documents you send or receive, including the notice of foreclosure, your statement that you wish to stay in your apartment, and your efforts to pay rent.