On October 11, 2023, Mayor Bowser signed the Fairness in Renting Clarification Amendment Act of 2023 (D.C. Law L25-0065, effective November 28, 2023) and amended key provisions of the Rental Housing Act of 1985, as amended (D.C. Code §42-3501.01 et seq.).
The law: (i) clarifies that landlords may not charge over a certain amount for fees associated with processing applications; (ii) raises the notice period for rent increases from 30 days to 60 days; (iii) prohibits charging prospective, current or departing tenants a professional cleaning fee or any fees associated with a landlord’s obligation to maintain the unit consistent with the implied warranty of habitability; and (iv) makes minor modifications to the language in a landlord’s 30-day notice of non-payment of rent. You can review the text of the Fairness in Renting Clarification Amendment Act of 2023, and a brief overview of the law follows.
D.C. Code §42-3505.01(a-1) details the language for the required 30-day notice of non-payment of rent. The notice must now read:
The total amount of rent owed is [list specific amount due]. A ledger showing the dates of rent charges and payments for the period of delinquency is attached. You have the right to remain in the rental unit if the total balance of unpaid rent is paid in full.
[Name of housing provider] has the right to file a case in court seeking your eviction if the amount of rent you owe is equal to at least $600 and you do not pay the balance of unpaid rent in full within 30 days of this notice. If the amount you owe is lower than $600, [name of housing provider] can notify you of the amount due but cannot file a case in court seeking your eviction.
You have the right to defend yourself in court. Only a court can order your eviction. For further help or to seek free legal services, contact the Office of the Tenant Advocate at 202-719-6560 or the Landlord Tenant Legal Assistance Network at 202-780-2575.
D.C. Code §42-3505.10 contains new requirements related to application and other fees, the highlights of which are below:
- Subsection (b)(3) provides that landlords may only charge an application fee prior to the tenant signing a lease. Landlords may not charge an earnest money deposit or holding deposit until after the application is approved and then such earnest money deposit or holding deposit become part of the prospective tenant’s first month’s rent or security deposit.
- Subsection (b)(4) provides that if a landlord permits a tenant to find a replacement tenant, to assign the lease, or sublease the apartment, the landlord may only charge the departing tenant a fee which does not exceed the amount of the application fee landlord currently charges.
- Subsection (b)(5) prohibits the landlord from charging any holding deposit to a prospective resident using a government-funded housing voucher (e.g., Housing Choice Voucher Program/Section 8).
- Subsection (b-1) provides that if a prospective tenant applies within 30 calendar days for apartments at different communities in the District which are either owned or managed by the same owner/management company, the landlord may only charge one application fee unless the owner/management company is required to perform more than one screening.
- Subsection (b-2)(1) makes clear that while a landlord may deduct from a tenant’s security deposit, the costs for repairing damages exceeding normal wear and tear, a landlord may not charge a new, current or departing tenant for any services required to maintain the apartment in the condition consistent with the implied warranty of habitability, the Housing Code, or other similar laws/regulations.
- Subsection (b-2)(2) prohibits a landlord from charging a tenant a professional cleaning fee if the tenant returns the apartment in the condition consistent with the standard of ordinary wear and tear.
D.C. Code §42-3509.04(b) contains the statutory language requiring a 60-day notice of rent increase. The law makes clear that such 60-day notice is for all rent increases under the Rental Housing Act of 1985, the Rental Accommodations Act of 1975, the Rental Housing Act of 1977, the Rental Housing Act of 1980, or any administrative decisions under any of these acts. Please note that any notices of rent increase not issued by November 28, 2023, will be ineffective unless they provide 60 days’ notice to the tenant. Given the limited notice of the enactment of this law, stakeholders are discussing a potential legislative change to preserve rent increases with an effective date of February 1, 2024, for which 60 days’ prior notice was not given. D.C. Code §42-3505.54(b) contains the new language governing notices of a tenant’s intent to vacate after expiration of the signed lease term, renewal, or extension term. If a landlord includes a lease clause that mandates more than a 30-day notice from a tenant of the tenants’ intention to vacate, the lease must also state that the tenant will receive a notice of rent increase that is at least 30 days more than the notice to vacate period.
Should you have any questions on this or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact Joshua Greenberg, Esq. at 202-452-1400 or JMG@GDLLAW.COM.