The Washington DC Rental Lease Agreements are a group of legal documents that allow a property owner or manager to temporarily cede control of their property to another party, known as a tenant. While Washington DC is technically a city, it has its own set of laws and rules, separate from the surrounding states. Leasing or selling property in Washington DC requires a Real Estate Broker license.
There are many different kinds of leases and which one you will need depends on what kind of property is being rented, how long it is being rented for and what the intended use is. Regardless of the type of lease, each lease should be read carefully to avoid misunderstandings, as it may have clauses unique to the property and area. The following forms are some of the most common examples of each of their type of form.
Form Description Types
Washington DC Rental Laws
Laws are pursuant to Washington DC Municipal Regulations Title 14.
Almost all landlords will want to charge a security deposit, to account for the possibility that a tenant will leave without paying rent or to pay for any damages a property accrues during a tenancy. In the District of Columbia, this is capped at one (1) month’s rent. In addition, a Washington DC landlord is required to return the security deposit, with an itemized list of deductions, within forty five (45) days of the tenant vacating the property.
All of the rules for rent in a lease, including how much rent is, when it is due, where it is due, and how it must be paid, will be contained in the lease itself. Washington DC is one of the few areas with rent control in the nation, although it primarily applies to rent increases in this case.
Washington DC law only allows annual rent increases, except in buildings that are exempt from Washington DC’s rent control (such as if they are government subsidized). In this case, a landlord must give thirty (30) days written notice and the rent increase must be based on the Consumer Price Index, although lower caps may be given if the tenant is a senior citizen or handicapped.
If a tenant fails to pay the rent on time and in full they may accrue a late fee. There are no laws limiting how much a landlord can charge for a late fee in the District of Columbia, but a late fee policy must be spelled out in the lease, or else the landlord cannot charge a late fee, no matter how much or how little it is.
In Washington DC, a landlord must begin the eviction process by serving the tenant with written notice of their violation of the lease, giving them three (3) days to fix their violation or vacate the property. If the tenant does not comply, the landlord will then go to Landlord & Tenant Court and seek an Eviction Notice from a judge. The judge will hold a hearing and the tenant will have the opportunity to defend themselves. If the landlord is successful, the tenant will be served with an Eviction Notice.
Until a tenant has been served with an Eviction Notice, the landlord cannot attempt to force the tenant out. Tactics for forcing the tenant out that would violate this include, but are not limited to, turning off utilities, changing locks, installing a deadbolt and removing the tenants possessions from the property.
In the District of Columbia it is forbidden to refuse housing, deny a property is available when it is, charge different rent or deposits or otherwise discriminate due to the following reasons:
- race, color, national origin, religion, age, education, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status or responsibilities, marital status, political affiliation, personal appearance, place of residence or business, status as a victim of abuse, physical or mental disability
Landlord’s Right to Enter
There are no laws governing a landlord’s right to enter in Washington DC, so it is governed by common law. Usually, unless it is an emergency situation, the landlord must provide reasonable notice (typically twenty four (24) hours) notice before entering the premises, at a reasonable time (such as business hours) and for a reasonable purpose (repairs or inspections). This is suspended during an emergency and a landlord can enter without consent or notice.