No Evictions for Less Than $600, Says New D.C. Law

As part of a bill that made many COVID-era tenant protections permanent, the District voted to ban eviction filings for households owing less than $600 in back rent.

March 3, 2022, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

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Chad Zuber / Shutterstock

As reported by Amanda Michelle Gomez for DCist, "In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, the D.C. Council permanently barred landlords from filing evictions against tenants who owe less than $600, sealed some eviction records, and further protected voucher holders during the rental screening process in an omnibus tenant protection bill."

The vote made permanent some policies temporarily set in place during the pandemic. "Advocates say the pandemic motivated lawmakers to do what was once considered impossible or impractical," making it easier to make the changes permanent.

"The bill, titled the Eviction Record Sealing Authority and Fairness in Renting Amendment Act, was first introduced in March 2021. Once the bill is signed into law by Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. could see a significant reduction in the number of eviction filings. In 2018, 12% of households summoned to D.C. Superior Court owed less than $600, according to the Georgetown report."

The article describes other actions the bill takes to shore up tenant protections: the new law requires landlords to notify tenants in writing (and in the tenant's native language if needed) 30 days before taking any action on eviction filings; instructs the Superior Court to dismiss improperly filed cases and seal records after 30 days if the landlord loses, three years if the tenant wins; requires landlords provide information about their screening and application process.

"The bill requires help from government agencies," notes Gomez, including the Office of Human Rights and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, tasked with enforcement.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022 in DCist

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