The Eviction Process in Washington, DC: A Guide for Landlords and Tenants

By: Justin Ewaniszyk

Note: If you’re a landlord or tenant in Virginia, check out our Virginia blog post The Eviction Process in Virginia: A Guide for Landlords and Tenants.

In Washington DC, both Tenant and Landlords have certain rights and obligations that they should know about before and during the eviction process. Those rights are governed by D.C. Code §42–3505.01, and it’s important for both Landlords and Tenants to understand the eviction procedure or the court may not grant your request. In other words, a Landlord cannot simply change the locks, turn off the utilities, remove Tenant’s belongings, or physically remove Tenant from the property without proper cause, notice, and a court order evicting Tenant.[1] Similarly, a Tenant may not simply withhold rent.

Step 1: Provide Notice to Tenant(s)
There are many possible reasons to evict a Tenant, but the two most common reasons are: 1) failure to pay rent; and/or 2) failure to comply with the obligations under the lease.[2]  If a Landlord believes a Tenant has failed to pay rent, or violated a portion the lease, then Landlord must send Tenant a “Notice to Cure or Vacate.”[3] If Tenant does not correct the issue, if the issue is correctable, then Landlord may file for eviction. (Note: A Landlord may not evict a Tenant whose lease has expired, so long as that Tenant continues to pay rent.)

  • Failure to Pay Rent: If Tenant fails to pay rent, Tenant must be provided with a 30-day notice to pay the rent in full by Landlord, unless this right to notice was waived in the lease agreement. If Tenant fails to make the payment on or before the 30 days expire, Landlord may bring an eviction action in court.
  • Failure to Comply with Correctable Obligations under the Lease: If Tenant violates a portion of the lease agreement, Landlord must provide Tenant with a 30-day notice to fix the violation. The notice must adequately describe the violation and cannot be waived by Tenant in the lease agreement. If Tenant fails to fix the violation on or before the 30-days expire, Landlord may bring an eviction action in court.
  • Failure to Comply with Non-Correctable Obligation under the Lease: Since Tenant is unable to cure a lease violation and the violation is material to the lease, Landlord may initiate the eviction proceedings.[4]

Step 2: Service of Eviction
If Tenant fails to pay the overdue rent or correct the lease violation after the 30 days after the notice was sent, Landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court. Landlord must then serve Tenant with a “Complaint” which specifies a time and date for the initial eviction hearing.[5] If Tenant fails to show up for the initial court date, and a judgement is rendered for Landlord, Landlord is required to file a “Notice to Tenant of Payment Required to Avoid Eviction” form with the court indicating the amount of money the judgement was entered for, which will then be sent to Tenant by the court.  Tenant is able to avoid the eviction if Tenant is able to pay the full amount owed at any time up until the U.S. Marshall arrives to remove Tenant.  The final notice that Tenant should receive is the official eviction notice called a “Writ of Eviction” and it is issued after the court has ordered a “judgement for possession” to Landlord. However, if Tenant and Landlord show up at the date and time specified in the “Complaint”, then the court will hear them both regarding the eviction.

Step 3: Court

  • Initial Hearing:
    1. Roll Call: At the initial hearing, which is dated in the complaint, the judge will call all the cases to make sure all parties are present. If a Tenant fails to show up at this initial hearing, the court will enter a default judgement for Landlord, which means Landlord is given possession of the property by the court. If Landlord fails to show up for the roll call, the court will dismiss the case, meaning that Landlord will have to refile the suit against Tenant if Landlord still wants an eviction.
    2. Opportunity to Settle: After the roll call, the judge will dismiss the room to give the parties an opportunity to settle. The parties, if they chose to settle may either: (a) agree to a “Consent Judgment,” which means that Landlord gets a financial judgment against Tenant, but not a judgment for possession, Landlord cannot use this to evict Tenant; or (b) sign a “Settlement Agreement,” which is a separate agreement between the parties to settle the issue, but does not result in a judgement for Landlord. Both options must be approved by the court when court resumes, and ensure that Tenant will pay the rent owed or correct the lease violation by an agreed upon date.
    3. Unable to Settle: If the parties are unable to settle the matter, the judge will then call forward the parties to decide if the case deserves a trial. If there is a genuine dispute about the facts of the case and Tenant requests a trial, it is likely that the judge will order a trial date for the parties to attend.
  • Trial: If the parties are unable to resolve the dispute and the judge believes a trial is appropriate, a trial date will be set and each party will have an opportunity to present their evidence (documents and verbal testimony) and the judge will resolve the dispute for the parties.
  • Judgment: If Tenant (a) doesn’t show up to initial hearing, thus giving a default judgement to the landlord, (b) breaks the consent agreement, or (c) loses at trial, then the court will enter a judgement for possession to Landlord, will issue a writ of eviction, and will enter a financial judgment against Tenant if appropriate.  After the judgement is made for Landlord, the actual process of removal will begin.

Step 4: Removal
If a judgement for possession is entered for Landlord, they must then file a “Writ of Restitution” or “Writ of Eviction” with the court at least 2 days after the judgement, which then becomes active 3 days after filing. Tenant will receive a copy of this writ which will indicate the first date which they may be evicted. This writ gives the right to Landlord, with assistance from the U.S. Marshall, the legal authority to remove Tenant and their possessions from the property. If the eviction is based on nonpayment of rent, Tenant can defeat the Writ of Eviction at any time prior to actual eviction by paying all owed debts to Landlord, including: back rent, current rent, court costs and fees. Assuming that Tenant is unable to pay the owed rent, or is being evicted for some reason other than their non-payment, Tenant will be required to leave the property upon arrival of the U.S. Marshall, who will supervise the eviction.

If you’re a landlord or tenant, please feel free to contact us for a consultation.

[1] D.C. Code §42–3505.01(a)
[2] D.C. Code §42–3505.01(a-b)
[3] D.C. Code §42–3505.01(b); § 42-3206 (The “Notice” must be served in both English and Spanish by: (1) personal service to Tenant; (2) service to someone that is over 16 years old and resides on the property; or (3) posting a notice on Tenant’s door, only after a “diligent effort” to achieve notice by personal service has failed twice, and must be accompanied by a mailed copy to Tenant within 3 calendar days of posting).
[4] See D.C. Code §42–3505.01(c) discussing illegal activity in the property.
[5] The “Complaint” must be served 7 days before the appearance date and may be served by (1) personal service to Tenant; (2) substituted service to someone specified to the court that is over 16 years old and resides on the property; (3) certified mail, as long as Tenant personally signs for the letter; or (3) posting a notice on Tenants door, only after a “diligent effort” to achieve notice by personal service has failed twice, and must be accompanied by a mailed copy to Tenant within 3 calendar days of posting

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112 Responses
  1. It’s interesting to know that there is a need for payment for the appeal bond if the tenant wishes to do so. With that in mind, it would be best to hire an eviction lawyer to find the most helpful options to win the case or to at least make it easier for the tenant. I can imagine how that would affect their record, especially if they didn’t want the issue in their finances from happening.

  2. They can stay for 14 consecutive days and then the 15th day need to stay elsewhere then can come back and they cant do anything about it. It says they cant stay for more than 14 consecutive days. So as long as she leaves for one night after 14 days the 14 days start over after she leaves for that one night

  3. We have an Airbnb. A guest could not pay lost his job. Let him stay a few days waiting for unemployment. It never came. He is still at the house, refusing to leave. Went to court today and judge gave bill of particulars to complete.

  4. Need Help Please!! I have a 3bd apartment my siblings left and I had to rent 2 rooms 1 of them I regret it so bad is a month to month we did oral agreement is a PROBLEMATIC PERSON, cant talk like adults she has to scream on my face in front of my child , my child is scared of her now because last time she was screaming to her now hasn’t paid this months rent seems doesn’t want to either trying to make excuses to do not pay and disturbing other tenant I really understand Evictions at this time but is very frustrating to live with negative people really need an advice please!!!

  5. Im a DC landlord. I have a tenant that abandoned the property. Previously, I issued a notification for violation of lease because they let the back yards overgrow and there’s and abandoned car. It hasn’t been taken care of. I stopped by last week. Daughter was there cleaning. She stated that everybody moved out and asked if I want keys. Through the daughter I made arrangements to get keys. The tenant refuses to talk to me, respond to text, Facebook messages. Same goes for her friend.

    What do I do, still go through eviction even though already moved? How do repossess my house legal for personal use. Do I issue them a 15 to 18 day notification to take possession of their personal property? What do I file in court? I’m lost. Thanks

  6. If you are purchasing a property in DC through an auction which the bank is the owner, how do you evict the tenants after the auction and how long does it take to remove the tenants.

  7. My housing was provided by my employer but I’ve been terminated. I have no lease and my employee agreement was never updated with my housing. My employer still owes me several months In wages. Can they evict me?

  8. I have a tenant who is 5 months late on rent. The lease agreement has a waiver for the 30 day notice so I took the tenant to court. We went through mediation, which, now that I look at it, only seems to award a money judgement but does not mention a possession judgement, which is kind of the whole point of filing for eviction. Does that need to explicitly need to be mentioned in the settlement agreement? Will I now have to file a motion for eviction before I can be awarded a money judgement? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  9. As a tenant….What if your landlord had the court date an arrangement was made with the management office and partial payment was made on the same day that the headquarters sent out the payment request. (Meaning less money is owed not what is on the notice).

    Basically does partial payment void any notice? I know in some jurisdictions it does. Is this so in Washington DC?

  10. If an eviction is granted by the courts, and the Landlord pays the eviction fee but then the tenant pays the rent, once the tenant moves out can the Landlord be reimbursed for the Eviction Fee?

  11. What if the landlord has failed to fix numerous housing code violations including mold inspection/remediation, and the tenants decide to simply move out. Can the landlord still sue them for the balance of money owed on the lease?

  12. I have a tenant in DC, the tenant lives in the basement of my home. The tenant is late each month and the tenant is rude and has parties on a regular basis. I have called the police and once the police arrives she calms down, then once they leave she starts partying again. I feel like a prisoner in my home. I also feel unsafe. We share a mailbox and my person information comes to the home, can I make my tenant get a p.o box?

    1. @Lisa – Probably not re PO Box, but if there is a provision in your lease that requires her be peaceful and/or not disturb you/others then that may be a basis for eviction.

  13. I sent my rent check by Mail dated August 1 and it arrived on
    august 2 a Saturday, I received my rental receipt on dated August
    5th. Normally they deposit my check no more than a week. two
    weeks past so I called realtor to see why they were holding it
    I was told they would deposit it next day they didn’t. I call the third
    week and was given no reason . They finally sent the check in
    on 8/26 to my bank and it is paid. on 8/27 I am served an eviction
    summons to appear in court for non-payment of rent. I have my
    cancelled check and the realtor receipt. I called the lawyer on the
    eviction notice the realtor lawyer and he says to call apt mananger who never talks to me when I call about anything but his rental
    assistance tells me the eviction was a mistake and just disregard. But in the summons it says that they can automatically evict you
    if you don’t show up if the court summons has not been appropriate

    1. @Althea — Always go to court unless you have something in writing from the lawyer. If you’re unavailable and want my firm to appear at court for you, please feel free to contact us.

    1. @Noah — You can still evict w/o a lease as long as you can prove that there is an agreement regarding the amount of rent to be paid. If you need help, feel free to give my office a call.

  14. I have two questions:
    1. If the lease specifies no smoking and the tenants agreed by signing it, but they disregard it and smoke inside and on tbe premises, can I evict them?
    2. If the property is exempt from rent control, are there still limitations on raising the rent by monthly ?
    Thank you

  15. I am landlord in Washington D.C. I have a nightmare tenant whose lease ends mid August 2019. The property mgmt company will serve him a “Non-renewal of lease notice” soon to meet the 90 day requirement. My understanding is that the lease will automatically convert to a Month-to Month whether I object or not. I want him gone so w/out any other legal reason/violation am I literally just stuck with him until HE decides to move? The laws in DC seem so unfair..

  16. We have a family who signed a contract to rent for 2yrs and purchase, ever since it started there has been some issue keeping them from paying what is due. At the present moment they are over $4k past due since July 2018. Excuses are restaurant closed waiting for unemployment, going to college waiting on pay back, money from folks, ect.
    We have been in contact via email & fb messenger constantly, I took photos, and they were suppose to vacate end of Jan and are still there.
    With all of this it has caused us financing stress on the mortgage. How do we make sure they leave while we still collect rent and dont loose touch with so we can collect??? Thank you

    1. @Debra — Collecting and getting them out are different issues. I’d worry about getting them out first so you can get paying tenants in the property and then worry about the unpaid rent down the road.

  17. My landlord filed a motion for eviction due to non-payment on the last day of the month (February 28) however I paid February’s rent earlier that day. (Family emergency last month which has me spilling a little into this month.). I haven’t made March’s rent but plan to do so next week but received a notice to appear in court in April. Are they able to file a motion for a month that I already paid?

  18. Good morning,

    I work for a condominium in DC which has a building association. In December of 2018 one of the buildings owners rented out his unit which is allowed. His current tenants have been a problem since day one. They moved in illegally (didn’t schedule move with building to avoid fees), used our regular elevator and continued even though they were asked not to. I continuously receive complaint of the smell of pot in common areas as well as complaints that the smell of pot is encroaching on some of their neighbors personal space. He has had several domestic and noise complaint calls made to 911 every Friday Saturday and Sunday since the end of January 2019. At the beginning of February management found out that the person who is living there is not even on the lease and that the lease is in a young ladies name who doesn’t even live there (she told me that herself). Allot of the staff including myself feel very uncomfortable working here with this tenant residing here. He is rude and has thrown out a suttle threat towards me and I have not felt comfortable since. There is allot of thing that due not seem right about this, no one in the unit works ( that I know of ), the amount of traffic in and out daily. Is there anything that the Association could do to get this person out or is the owner the only one that could take action since this is his tenant?

    1. @Leigh — The Associate likely has bylaws and a fine structure for owners (and their tenants) who do not comply with the bylaws or association rules. If you start fining the owner that may put pressure on the owner to get the tenants to correct their behavior.

  19. I just bought a Triplex and I want to move to the top floor, 3 bedrooms apartment. One room is rented out. (co-living) As required by law I will give him 90 days notice. But if I decided to move in to the other 2 bed rooms right now and that is before the 90 days notice is completed. If I moved in, will I still be able to evict him if he didn’t vacate after the 90 days requirement is satisfied?

  20. I live in Washington DC and the house I live in was going through probate. My cousin has just become the new homeowner and she has come to the house while no one was home and changed locks and placed a lockbox on the door for realtors. Is this legal?

  21. We have given the tenants a 90-day notice to leave because we intend to move into the property ourselves and they are not leaving. There is also a second person living in one apartment and the lease specifies only one person can live there. Do we follow the same procedure? Thanks.

  22. I am a tenant in dc . My landlord filed a notice to correct or vacate. I never recieved the notice. I found out through case searches online. In the notice it says they attempted to deliver the notice to me on several occasions yet no one ever gave it to me. (I live next door to the rental office) It also states a man refused to take the documents . there is no man living in my apartment . the notice also states it was delivered on the second floor. I live on the third floor. Can this be a defense? My landlord previously agreed to accept payment as i get rental assistance . im confused as to what to do.

  23. I am a tenant in DC and have received a complaint against me for possession for rent that was late previous month. Since the complaint was submitted, I have paid the rent listed on the notice. I am currently late for December but that will be paid soon. Can the current case for eviction continue though I have paid in full the original complaint against me for November or would they most likely submit a new complaint?

  24. Hi,

    My mom fell ill over the summer and while I’ve been keeping up with my rent, I’m always about 20 days late as I’ve been catching up after all the medical bills. My old management was very understanding. My bill has new management, and they have told me that they have to report “any tenants with balances to the attorneys by the 11th of each month.” I usually pay by the 20th and should be less behind in december and caught up in January. However I’m worried that I’ll be kicked out before then. Can you provide any insights on long the process generally takes in DC? I always pay my rent. It’s just late due to unforeseen circumstances. I hate that.

    1. @Jeremy — If you pay, even if you’re late, in DC, the landlord will have a difficult time evicting you. Not the case in VA, but in DC, as long as you pay, you should be OK. Really, you should work with the landlord to change the lease so that the payment due date is the 20, so you don’t have this issue every month.

  25. I am a landlord. A person represented themselves as an agent for a tenant. I was given documents verifying employment and ability to pay for the tenant listed on the lease. After two months of non-payment, I contacted the person on the lease. He was not aware his name had been used to secure a lease. He paid me all unpaid rent and advised me to deal with the agent who is living in the unit. I reached out and said the lease was based on misrepresentations and that I wanted her to vacate the property. She wanted to sign a new lease and Insaid Inwas not comfortable renting to someone who had misrepresented themselves. I agreed to give her 90 days as long as she paid the rent. She made the first payment, but missed the second. i don’t think she has the ability to pay. My belief is that she plans to stay past the 90 day period.

  26. Hello I’m one of the tenants in a single family house. There is another tenant upstairs she has now allowed 2 new people to stay in the home who are not on the lease they have brought bedbugs and do not keep common areas clean I asked my landlord to do something she refused what can I do I told her if the problem isn’t solved I’m not going to pay her I know she can evict me but what else can be done to avoid eviction

    1. @India — you could file a claim with the DC housings conditions court to get the landlord to fix the issue and/or give notice and leave if you’re on the month to month tenancy.

  27. @Mike — Give my office a call. The reason Landlord’s lose eviction cases is sometimes because they try to handle these matters on their own. You don’t want to give your tenant several months notice and then realize you made a mistake in the notice and have to start all over.

  28. I have a rental property, a single family home, that I used to live in and have rented out for a number of years. I need to evict the tenants because I’d like to move back into the property. What should this notice look like?

  29. My brother is going through the eviction process by his landlord, but he had a nervous break down and is in a mental institution. He is scheduled to go to court next week. What are the options he has? He has paid rent for two months since 1/2018, but been late on his rent for the last four months. If he gets a judgment against him, how long after the court date would the US Marshals, come to follow through with the eviction?

  30. I have a tenant who is on a month to month lease. She has been late with her rent every year for 18 years. Sometimes for months. This year she is five (5) months behind. I have served her with a notice that we are not renewing her lease and she has 30 days to quit the apartment. I never mentioned her late rent for the reason. I just stated we were not renewing her lease. if she does not leave then I have to file for eviction, correct?

  31. @Nate – if you live in Arlington, you’ll likely get a notice from the sheriff, but it could be very soon, so you should reach out the landlord and try to make an arrangement to pay and stay (in writing).

  32. Hi. I’m behind on rent this month and have notified my leasing office. My mother has been in the hospital, and as I pay for medical bills and then wait for reimbursement, it has caused me to get behind. I’ve paid the bulk of my rent for the month, but I’m waiting to pay the rest. I’m writing to know what the eviction process is like for DC. If my landlord files but I pay the remaining rent, will I still be evicted?

    1. @Jeremy — In DC as long as you pay what you owe you can stay and avoid the eviction — even if you pay after the eviction process has started.

  33. What if the Landlord violates the lease and/or any addendum to the lease? Is it okay to withhold rent? There are several addenda they are not upholding/enforcing. What can a tenant do when a landlord has been given months to mitigate/fix issues of noise, locking doors, security issues, mixed-use building violations, etc. I have contacted DCRA and ABRA, but no progress there. Thank you for your help.

    1. @Dan — In DC tenants can withhold rent and/or file complaints with the housing conditions docket that was created to address this very issue.

  34. I have a tenant who agreed to move out June 3rd after not paying a rent increase which started April 1st and not paying any rent on May 1st. I put the house on the market May 1st and also provided them with the opportunity to purchase information and had let them know about the contract I received a week before they moved out. They now want to use their TOPA rights, but still have not paid any rent. My property management co, is submitting them for eviction after non payment of rent from April 1st and after already submitting the 30 day correct or vacate. My question is, can a tenant still use their TOPA rights if they become evicted although they have put in an offer?

  35. Hi! I have a house in DC, and let a friend move in. We agreed to sign a lease, but because he travels a lot, we never got around to signing one. He paid the first month’s rent. The second month’s rent check bounced, and now the third month is due and he still hasn’t made good on the check or made payment.

    Can I evict him without a lease, or should I have him sign a lease first?

    1. @Randy – You’re not required to have a signed lease, but if you’re evicting for non-payment of rent, you’ll need to have some documentation to show how much rent was agreed. If you decide to hire an attorney, feel free to contact my office.

  36. I received a writ in the mail the notice was filed on April 5, but I only owe April rent which I am caught up on. They put on the paper from April 10th to June 19th of this year. They say to call the line every day at 6 to check the status. Please provide some guidance

  37. I purchased a multifamily home December 29, 2017 in DC. I have a hoarder which is in violation of the least for having a pet. Can I just evict the tenant under the Landlord seeks in good faith to occupy the rental unit for personal use and occupancy?

  38. I have tenants in a four unit building in Washington DC. I have given them a 3-month notice to vacate. Then I extend the date one month and am offering a “Go Forward” payment. One person has moved out. The other three have refused. I need them out so I can renovate the building and put it on the market. What’s my next move??

    1. @Barbara — If your notice was not complied with then you are able to begin the eviction process with the court. If you decide to hire an attorney, feel free to call my office.

  39. I intend to sell my home and I have a section 8 tenant living in the house and her lease has been up for about 1-1/2 years. I have given here first option to purchase the house. She declined to purchase says she can’t afford it. What’s my next step.

  40. I am 8 months behind in my rent in rent-controlled building in DC. I became seriously ill in March 2017 and loss notable income due to illness. I then left my job of four years due to complications w my employer over my medical leave. My landlord has been enormously supportive primarily because I was always a good tenant and paid my rent. He has not filed any judgment in DC court to date because a potential settlement w my prior employer is in process being negotiated by my attorney. However, there has been a break-down in negotiations, leaving me unable to pay the rent back, even while a settlement is highly likely. My question: I understand the Writ of Eviction process in DC. (1) Is the Writ of Eviction or any court-filed complaint public record forever? Does it stay in public civil records for life or a term period? My landlord does not want to hurt my chances of finding housing in the future. (2) How long does it take to get to an actual Writ of Eviction date when the US Marshalls show up? 75 days, two months, three? Please let me know, many thanks. John

  41. On 12/20 I signed a lease with a tenant who was supposed to take possession on 1/1 (take keys and pay rent; she was supposed to actually move on 1/6). On 12/20 she paid the partial deposit (full deposit $1200, she paid $1100 by certified check which looks like it’s cleared) and signed the lease. She later asked to move the payment/possession date back to 1/8; since then, I’ve not heard at all from her. She is not responding to my emails. Can I proceed to file for eviction? Is there any other way to void this lease since she hasn’t fully paid the deposit, hasn’t paid the rent and hasn’t attempted to take possession?

  42. I am hoping to buy a property in DC. The current owner’s property is being auctioned for non payment of HOA fee. The court has passed the judgement against the current owner. If I buy this property in auction and the current owners continue to occupy the property what are my options to get the possession of this property.

  43. My question, I move out in a month and already have been to court for initial non-payment and came up with an agreement to pay a full month’s rent every other Friday. I have made the first three payments on time, however I just got laid off and cannot make the last two payments. If I break that agreement how long will it take for a writ/eviction to happen? Some say three days some say a month? If I receive a writ can I stop it? I move out in literally 4 weeks, should I just pay what I can? Thanks for the help.

  44. Thanks for the reply above! Follow up question. My court date is Monday and I will be shocked if the tenant shows up. I,m assuming I will win my case, file for eviction and engage the marshals to carry it out. As I understand it, I’d need to get someone to physically move the tenant’s stuff out to the sidewalk. I have reason to suspect he’s got bedbugs and I don’t want to leave his stuff out there because bedbugs spread so easily especially if someone scavengers some of the infested property. Since I’m expecting to have to treat the apartment anyway, I’d rather get rid of his stuff once it’s all been exterminated. Is this legally permissible? The tenant would have no access to his property for a week or two, maybe longer. He’s probably just abandoning it all anyway.

  45. After a tenant is evicted, how soon can I call 311 to have their stuff removed from the curb? I texted my tenant 3 days ago to let him know he had been evicted, but he still has not come to retrieve his stuff from the curb.

  46. I am renting a room in my home. For the third time in 4 months, the police have been called to my home by the renter because he’s been hit by his boyfriend, He has a month to month lease. The last incident I told him he has to go. Since this was at the beginning of the month, he refused to pay the rent for the month. I turned off the cable in his room. Does this violate any rules? Mind you his boyfriend has been sneaking in and staying.

    1. @Thomas — I don’t think you can evict tenant who appears to be the victim in the relationship. If the tenant was doing something improper then that may be the basis for the eviction, but b/c the boyfriend is creating incidents may be a basis to keep the boyfriend off the property, but not necessarily a basis to evict the tenant.

  47. I have a tenant that paid a portion of the rent for 1 month and did not pay anything for the next month. He has filed suit against my property manager for a non-functional venting microwave and claims that he is unable to pay rent due to medical bills caused by the smoke generated when cooking (The kitchen is not lager, however there are 2 large windows adjacent to the stove that can be used for venting). I wanted to begin the eviction process, however since the tenant filed suit, I was informed that the requesting eviction would be considered retaliatory. Complicating matters is that I am in the military (currently abroad) and am awaiting orders to return to DC (I will be returning within the next few months). I want to evict the tenants for failure to pay, however I also plan to occupy residence. Any advice on my best course of action would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    1. @David — if you fix the microwave issue and the tenant pays then you’re in good shape. If you want to evict for personal use reasons then you should be able to do that — but you should start that process soon because you’re required to provide significant notice to the tenant.

  48. I had notice for court for failure to pay rent. I never received the court order until after the date because it went to my neighbor apartment and they actually opened it and had it for over a month. They gave me the notice after the court date. I called the rental company and their lawyer with little resolve. I was told a writ was going to be issued but I don’t understand the process do I have to attend court when writ is issued? Do I get evicted before I receive notice? From what I read in DC once writ is filed you get put out by US Marshall’s is this true or do you have a few weeks to get things in order to make payment ?

    1. @Jane — In DC, you can pay whatever it is you owe at anytime prior to the US Marshalls. You could also file a motion to stay the eviction based on your neighbor getting the document.

  49. What if you’re a landlord and you have two tenants, each on the lease, and one of them doesn’t pay. Can you evict only one of them or since they’re both on the lease do both get evicted? If the latter that would make sense: each one has an interest in the other one paying their share of the rent.

  50. Where exactly do I go to file the paperwork to request a court date? I’ve already delivered the notice to come current or quit.

    Also at what point can I enter the apartment to see if the tenant has already left?

      1. I have a few questions regarding me as the tenant. The owner of the house I reside in has put the house up for sale. Now I have 4grandkids that stay me as well. I’ve asked her for an eviction notice several times and she said no due to the fact that her property is family not rental. I’m not family I was dating her brother. I used to pay rent,but I became very ill and couldn’t work. She used to pay me to take care of the elderly gentleman that lives here too. I agreed to let her keep that money being that I couldn’t afford to give her type of financial help. Now she’s passes a message alinato me saying that if she gets no money I need to leave now. What can I do about this

      2. @Kimberly – As long as you’re paying rent or trading a service instead of rent, you are a tenant and can stay, but if you can’t pay or provide some type of compensation in exchange for the housing then the landlord could try to evict you.

  51. I have a tenant who has just started his tenancy. He has already been late with his payment for the 2nd month and is now late for the 3rd month. How do you start eviction proceedings? Where do you file in DC?

    1. @Nicole — You have to give notice of the lease violation and if it’s not corrected then you can file for eviction. Feel free to call my office.

  52. I noticed this article covers evictions in the event of non payment but what if the tenant is indeed paying on time and the landlord still wants to evict the tenant due to a guest staying several months and claiming the unit is ‘overcrowded’? For example, if someone rents a 1 bedroom apartment with 2 people(a married couple) in the bedroom and a third person(son) in the living space. Now due to the husband being sick a fourth person has stayed for several months but the fourth person is not listed on the lease. Is this grounds for eviction?

    1. @Mike — It depends on the basis for the eviction, but yes, you can evict someone for issues other than failure to pay rent — it really just depends on what your lease says.

  53. What if the tenant is deceased and the relatives, who would be totally willing to vacate the residence, can’t legally get access until the estate works its way thru DC probate court? Is paying the rent the only way the family can protect the personal property of the deceased from being taken by the landlord?

    1. @M. McLaughlin — Most landlords would work with the family and estate to remove the property. It doesn’t really do anyone any good to have a vacant property that may or may not pay rent from the estate.

  54. Hi I was giving a noticed of payment required to avoid eviction yesterday and Friday! I need more information am I getting evicted by the Marshall? Because I have no date on it for possession. My landlord put in a judgment for possession please someone help explain this to me this is my first place I’m a sitting duck here

    1. @Erin — There probably isn’t an eviction date as of the date you got the notice, but you will have one soon unless you can pay the amount needed to avoid the eviction.

  55. My wife and I have adjacent units in a private condo and have leased both for the last 3 years and the lease expires on 31st May 2017. We intend to open the common wall (allowed by the HOA) and combine the two units into one large unit. Should we give the 90 day notice to both tenants using form 12 in English and Spanish?
    Since we are undecided if after combining the unit we wish to sell or rent the unit or occupy it ourselves (as a combined unit) are we required to follow the 12 month?
    Should we give notice to vacate as for own occupation or as substantial renovation?

      1. Their lease expires end May and reverts to month by month after. My reading is that one of them will leave but the other will try to hang on. The latter is always late in payment. We have served her notices 3 times, but everytime she pays in the nick of time (30 days after due date) and disables us from evicting her. Her beligerent attitude makes me think she will not leave easily.
        I dont want to give her the 90 day owner occupation notice because i cannot sell or rent for 12 months after that.
        Is there any way to terminate the lease end may?
        Why does it seem lije we are stuck with her ss long as she keeps paying?

  56. How soon after non payment can eviction procedures be implemented? Basically, I have a tenant who consistently pays rent late but always before the end of the month. Lease says anything after the 5th is late. When can I file?

    1. @Irina – You can initiate the process as soon as the tenant is late, but when you’re evicting for non-payment in DC, the tenant can avoid the eviction by paying the amount due.

    1. @Jameka — It depends. If the case was closed because it was dismissed or the tenant won, then the tenant does not need to move. If it was closed because the landlord won, then the tenant may need to move. “Closed” can mean a variety of different outcomes — it’s more of a generic term.

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About the Author

Steven Krieger and guests (lawyers and non-lawyers) will periodically post about topics relevant to his firm and practice areas. Your comments and feedback are always welcome. 

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