Can I evict tenants from my housing units? On July 25th, the COVID-19 declared public health emergency (PHE) expired. Safeguards placed during the PHE are ending in phases. Please see below for the most up-to-date information.
Eviction Moratorium Phasing
Mayor Bowser signed the Public Emergency Extension and Eviction and Utility Moratorium Phasing Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 on July 27th. This legislation provides a phased rollback to most pandemic protections. Now that this law is enacted, small housing providers can immediately take three unrestricted actions:
- the public safety exception will be expanded to allow evictions to proceed against a tenant whose continuing presence causes a health or safety risk to residents of immediately adjacent properties – this closes a loophole that made the public safety exception harder for small landlords to use;
- evictions can proceed based on willful significant property damage
- you will be able to start the process of collecting past due rent using a new notice form, (see attached). Note that the new form requires you to start a STAY DC application if you have not done so yet and attach a ledger for the delinquent rent.
This graphic provides a visual illustration of when and how the rollbacks will occur:
First Eviction Exemption: On April 6, the Council voted to add a health and safety risk exemption to the eviction moratorium. Housing providers may file to recover property where the complaint alleges that the tenant’s continuing presence at the housing accommodation where the tenant resides presents a current and substantial threat to the health and safety of tenants, on-site agents, or employees of the owners of the housing accommodation, or household members or guests of other tenants, because the tenant has violated an obligation of tenancy by engaging in an unlawful possession of a firearm, threats or acts of violence, or assault.
Eviction Moratorium Exemption Legislation (Signed by Mayor Bowser on May 3rd)
Act of violence defined in § 23–1331: The term “crime of violence” means aggravated assault; act of terrorism; arson; assault on a police officer (felony); assault with a dangerous weapon; assault with intent to kill, commit first degree sexual abuse, commit second degree sexual abuse, or commit child sexual abuse; assault with significant bodily injury; assault with intent to commit any other offense; burglary; carjacking; armed carjacking; child sexual abuse; cruelty to children in the first degree; extortion or blackmail accompanied by threats of violence; gang recruitment, participation, or retention by the use or threatened use of force, coercion, or intimidation; kidnapping; malicious disfigurement; manslaughter; manufacture or possession of a weapon of mass destruction; mayhem; murder; robbery; sexual abuse in the first, second, or third degrees; use, dissemination, or detonation of a weapon of mass destruction; or an attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing offenses.
Can I raise rents on my units?
Beginning on August 25th, rent increases, in some cases, may occur.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a rent increase for a residential property not prohibited by the provisions of § 42-3509.04(c), shall be prohibited during a period for which a public health emergency has been declared pursuant to § 7-2304.01, and for 30 days thereafter.
Any rent increase shall be null and void and shall be issued anew in accordance with subsection (b) of this section if:
(A) The effective date of the rent increase as stated on the notice of rent increase occurs during a period for which a public health emergency has been declared pursuant to the Public Emergency Act, and for 30 days thereafter;
(B) The notice of rent increase was provided to the tenant during a period for which a public health emergency has been declared; or
(C) The notice was provided to the tenant prior to, but the rent increase takes effect following, a public health emergency.
The housing provider must inform tenants in writing that any rent increase notice is null and void pursuant to the Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Act 24-30);
Penalties: If it is determined that the housing provider knowingly demanded or received any rent increase or substantially reduced or eliminated related services previously provided for a rental unit, the housing provider may be subject to treble damages and a rollback of the rent, pursuant to § 42-3509.01(a).
Rental Payment Plans Offered to Tenants
Under the declared public health emergency (expired July 25th 2021), and for one year thereafter, a housing provider shall offer a rent-payment-plan program for eligible tenants.
What does “eligible tenant” mean? This simply means any tenant that has notified a housing provider of an inability to pay all or a portion of the rent due as a result of the public health emergency.
Under the Rent Payment Program:
HPs must allow the eligible tenant to repay the gross rent and any other amounts that come due under the lease during the program period and prior to the end of tenancy, with a minimum term length of one year unless a shorter payment plan term length is requested by the eligible tenant.
HPs must do the following:
- Waive any fee, interest, or penalty that arises out of an eligible tenant entering into a payment plan.
- Not report to credit reporting agency delinquent rent subject to a repayment plan.
- Ensure that an eligible tenant does not lose any rights under the lease by entering into a repayment plan.
- Notify all tenants of the availability, terms and application process for the repayment plan.
- A housing provider must agree to the terms of the plan in writing.
- A provider shall not require or request a lump-sum payment under a payment plan.
Legislation Cited: B24-0139 – Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2021
Emergency legislation is in effect for 90 days upon becoming official.
The temporary version of this legislation is pending congressional review. Temporary legislation remains in effect for no longer than 225 days.
Rental Assistance for Housing Providers and Tenants
STAY DC is a financial assistance program for D.C. renters and housing providers who are looking for support to cover housing and utility expenses and offset the loss of income.
Funding can be used to pay unpaid rent going back to April 1, 2020. Money can be used to pay forward rent, up to three months at a time. Housing support is available for up to 18 months, per tenant.
Housing providers play a critical role by helping connect renters in need with the assistance available through the STAY DC Program. Housing Providers can initiate an application and provide a valid email address for your tenant so that an automated notification can be sent to them to separately provide household information in the tenant portal.
Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA)
To collectively exercise the right of purchase, the Tenants must deliver a written Statement of Interest to both the Landlord and the Mayor (at DHCD’s Rental Conversion and Sale Division). The statement must be sent by certified mail, or delivered in person, within 15 days of receipt of offer of sale by the Tenant or the Mayor, whichever is later. If the Tenants collectively fail to do so, an individual Tenant has an additional days to exercise the right of purchase through a written Statement of Interest on his or her own behalf.
Under the declared public health emergency (expired July 25th, 2021), and for a period of 30 days thereafter, the deadline for tenants to exercise TOPA rights are tolled—meaning, there is no deadline to respond to an offer of sale.
**Procedural Note** Emergency legislation doesn’t require a committee hearing, a second legislative vote, or congressional review. Only one vote, then it goes to the Mayor to become official law. Temporary legislation requires two votes, the Mayor’s signature, and congressional review. Emergency legislation is passed first, then as a stop-gap measure, temporary legislation is passed to prolong the legislation’s duration.
The information expressed within this page is a general resource guide for the members of GCAAR/DCAR and is subject to change. The content of this guide does not constitute legal or financial advice and may not be relied upon as legal or financial advice, and you may not convey or imply otherwise to clients, customers, other real estate professionals or members of the public.