5 Common Reasons to Evict a Tenant in Washington, DC

Eric Broermann January 26, 2024

Washington, D.C. is one of the most expensive cities in the United States to live in and also one of the most complex when it comes to landlord-tenant law. A question that almost every prospective client asks us is how we handle evictions. Evictions happen when tenants are forced to leave their homes because they are not paying their rent, have violated the terms of their lease, or are required to vacate the property for reasons such as construction or owner re-occupancy. In this blog, we will explore the most common reasons for evictions in Washington, D.C.

1. Nonpayment of Rent

The most common reason for eviction is nonpayment of rent. When tenants fail to pay rent on time, property owners may initiate eviction proceedings to recover the unpaid rent. Under D.C. law, landlords must provide tenants with a notice to pay rent or quit before starting the eviction process. If the tenant fails to pay rent or moves out, the landlord can file a lawsuit to evict the tenant.

2. Lease Violations

Lease violations can also lead to evictions. When tenants violate the terms of their lease, property owners can initiate eviction proceedings. Some common lease violations include subletting without permission, unauthorized pets, loud noise, and damage to the property. In some cases, owners may give tenants a warning before initiating eviction proceedings, but in other cases, they may go straight to court.

3. Illegal Activity

If tenants engage in illegal activity on the property, they are likely breaking their lease as well as the law. Property owners may initiate eviction proceedings to protect their property and other tenants. Property owners will almost always contact the police so that a report can be made that supports an eviction suit.

4. Renovations/Rehab/Demolition

If a property requires substantial rehabilitation work, will be demolished, or discontinued as housing, tenants may be evicted provided the owner gives proper notice, ranging from 120 to 180 days. Each of these reasons has specific legal requirements for the owners and separate paperwork. The landlord must notify tenants of the renovations and provide plans for the renovations, along with an explanation of why they cannot be done while the unit is occupied, which must be on file with RACD (Rent Administrator and Chief Tenant Advocate). If the renovations were done to comply with housing regulations, tenants have the right to re-rent at the same price and under the same obligations as before. In case of demolition for new construction, landlords must give tenants 180 days’ notice and provide them with the opportunity to buy the apartment before using this reason for eviction.

5. Owner Reoccupying for Personal Use

Housing providers must provide a minimum of 90 days’ notice if they intend to move back in and use the property as their primary residence. This notice cannot cut the lease term short. This also applies to sales. If you sell the property, but the tenants are still on an active lease, the new owner must give 90 days’ notice before they can move in. Oftentimes, the notice is enough to negotiate a move-out date with your tenants, preventing the need to carry out the eviction process.
In conclusion, evictions in Washington, D.C. can happen for a variety of reasons. Tenants in D.C. have certain rights when facing eviction, including the right to receive proper notice before the eviction process begins. If you are facing eviction in Washington, D.C., it’s important to understand your legal rights and seek help from a qualified attorney or tenant advocacy organization. As an owner, we advise that you work with an experienced attorney to ensure 100% compliance with DC law.
It’s important to have systems in place that protect you from ending up in situations where the eviction of your tenant is your only option. Nonpayment of rent and lease violations, especially, can be avoided if you have a thorough screening process and understand how to mediate issues that might come up. Hiring an experienced property manager to help with this is key to protecting your investments.
For more happy home content, we suggest checking out our blog on Fair Housing Dos and Don’ts for DC Property Owners. Stay tuned for further blogs about the eviction process in DC. We’ll be covering reasons you cannot evict tenants and getting into specific tenant situations in more detail.
Source: Nest DC

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