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FAQ: Tenant Repayment Plan for Residents Impacted by COVID-19

As of September 26, 2021 and during the declared public health emergency, District tenants may only be evicted for nonpayment of rent, if a tenant willfully causes significant damage to a rental unit or rental property, or if a tenant commits an illegal act or poses a threat or risk to other tenants or persons at a rental property.  Evictions for lease violations will begin on January 1, 2022.  Tenants cannot be charged late fees for the duration of the public health emergency. Unless extended, the public health emergency ends on Friday, January 7, 2022.

If a tenant falls behind on their rent due to the public health emergency, the landlord must offer a payment plan to help them become current.

The following are frequently asked questions to help landlords and tenants reach a payment plan agreement.

A tenant has given notice of financial difficulty due to COVID-19 and fallen behind on their rent. Can a landlord evict them?

Potentially, yes.  As of September 26, 2021, a landlord may evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent of $600 or more and if the tenant does not have a pending application with the STAY DC or Emergency Rental Assistance Plan programs. 

On March 11, 2020, Mayor Bowser declared a public emergency and public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic which included a moratorium on evictions. In response to the declared emergencies, the D.C. Council passed several legislative amendments, including the Coronavirus Support Temporary Amendment Act of 2020 (Act) which establishes a tenant rent payment plan.  A landlord must offer a tenant rent payment plan for one year after the public health emergency ends on January 7, 2022 (unless the emergency is further extended).

Are landlords required to offer their tenants a payment plan should they fall behind on their rent?

Yes. Landlords and property managers shall develop and provide a tenant payment plan program for eligible tenants. To be eligible, a tenant must have a current residential lease agreement and notify the landlord or property manager of an inability to pay all or a portion of the rent due to the public health emergency.

Also, the housing provider must:

  1. Notify all tenants of plan availability and process;
  2. Establish applicant procedures which may include requiring a tenant to provide supporting documentation; and
  3. Provide for an application process online or by telephone.

What are the required terms for establishing a payment plan?

The housing provider and tenant must create their own payment plan agreement. However, terms of be payment plan must:

  1. Be in writing;
  2. Be for the payment of gross rent and any other amounts coming due under the lease agreement (note that late fee payments are prohibited for any month during the public health emergency);
  3. Be for a minimum term of 1 year unless the tenant requests a shorter term;
  4. Provide for equal monthly installments for the duration of the payment plan unless the tenant agrees to a different payment schedule;
  5. Waive any fee or penalty accruing under a payment plan;
  6. Permit a tenant to pay an amount greater than the monthly amount provided for in the payment plan; and
  7. Not require any lump sum payment.

After an agreement has been reached are there any additional requirements or considerations?

Yes, there are additional requirements for housing providers when a payment plan has been reached with a tenant. A housing provider shall:

  1. Not report any negative information about a tenant under a payment plan to a credit bureau;
  2. Provide that an eligible tenant does not lose any rights under the payment plan;
  3. Approve each payment plan application if the tenant can demonstrate financial hardship resulting directly or indirectly from the public health emergency, regardless of an existing delinquency or a future inability to make rental payments established before the public health emergency began;
  4. Keep copies of all approved or rejected plan applications for three (3) years; and
  5. At the request of the tenant, provide a copy of a payment plan to the Rent Administrator at the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Rental Accommodations Division.

If a payment plan agreement with a tenant is not reached or their application is denied, can eviction proceedings begin?

No. A tenant whose payment plan application is denied may file a written complaint with the Rent Administrator who will review the complaint for completeness and then refer the complaint to the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) for adjudication.

A tenant complaint form is available at https://dhcd.dc.gov/service/rent-control. A complaint form must be filled out, signed and dated, and include copies of relevant and supporting documentation. A tenant may submit a complaint to:

DC Department of Housing and Community Development
Housing Regulation Administration
Rental Accommodations Division
1800 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20020

Tenant complaints may be submitted by mail, hand delivery to the Housing Resource Center located at the corner of Good Hope Road, S.E. and Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, S.E. (open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.—3:30 p.m.), or by emailing the complaint form and supporting documentation in a portable document format (PDF) to [email protected].

Can tenants get assistance from DHCD with filing a complaint?

Tenants may obtain assistance with completing a complaint by contacting these organizations:

  • Office of the Tenant Advocate (202) 719-6560
  • Housing Counseling Services (202) 667-7006
  • Latino Economic Development Center (202) 588-5102.
  • D.C. Landlord Tenant Resource Center(202) 780-2575.

The Rental Accommodations Division may be reached on (202) 442-9505.