Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 15. Forcible Entry and Detainer.


§ 16–1501. Definition; summons.

*NOTE: This section includes amendments by temporary legislation that will expire on February 4, 2022. To view the text of this section after the expiration of all emergency and temporary legislation, click this link: Permanent Version.*

*NOTE: This section includes amendments by temporary legislation that will expire on October 27, 2021. To view the text of this section after the expiration of all emergency and temporary legislation, click this link: Permanent Version.*

(a) When a person detains possession of real property without right, or after his right to possession has ceased, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, on complaint under oath verified by the person aggrieved by the detention, or by his agent or attorney having knowledge of the facts, may issue a summons in English and Spanish to the party complained of to appear and show cause why judgment should not be given against him for the restitution of possession.

[(b)] The person aggrieved shall not file a complaint seeking restitution of possession pursuant to this section for nonpayment of rent in an amount less than $600; except, that the person aggrieved may file a complaint to recover the amount owed.

[(c)] [Repealed].


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 581, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 560, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(g)(1); June 29, 1984, D.C. Law 5-90,§ 2(a), 31 DCR 2537; Mar. 16, 2021, D.C. Law 23-255, 67 DCR 13959; June 24, 2021, D.C. Law 24-9, § 404(a)(1)(B), 68 DCR 004824; July 24, 2021, D.C. Act 24-125, § 3(t), 0 DCR 0.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-1501.

1973 Ed., § 16-1501.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 15-318, § 16-1502, and § 42-3602.

Cross References

Ejectment actions, see § 42-3210.

Forcible entry and detainer, see § 22-3301.

Remedies of purchaser upon refusal to deliver possession, see § 15-318.

Sufferance estates, see § 42-520.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(1) of Coronavirus Support Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Act 24-96, June 7, 2021, 68 DCR 006025).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(a)(1) of Eviction Moratorium Public Safety Exception Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Act 24-67, May 3, 2021, 68 DCR 004907).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(1) of Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Act 24-30, Mar. 17, 2021, 68 DCR 003101).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of Fairness in Renting Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Act 24-3, Jan. 25, 2021, 68 DCR 001529).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of Fairness in Renting Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-497, Nov. 10, 2020, 67 DCR 13949).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(1) of Coronavirus Support Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-405, Aug. 19, 2020, 67 DCR 10235).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(1) of Coronavirus Support Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-328, June 8, 2020, 67 DCR 7598).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(1) of Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-326, May 27, 2020, 67 DCR 7045).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(1) of Coronavirus Support Temporary Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Law 24-9, June 24, 2021, 68 DCR 004824).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of Fairness in Renting Temporary Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Law 23-255, Mar. 16, 2021, 67 DCR 13959).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(1) of Coronavirus Support Temporary Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Law 23-130, Oct. 9, 2020, 67 DCR 8622).


§ 16–1502. Service of summons.

*NOTE: This section includes amendments by temporary legislation that will expire on February 4, 2022. To view the text of this section after the expiration of all emergency and temporary legislation, click this link: Permanent Version.*

The summons provided for by section 16-1501 shall be served seven days, exclusive of Sundays, legal holidays, and a period of time for which the Mayor has declared a public health emergency pursuant to § 7-2304.01, before the day fixed for the trial of the action; except, that a summons may be served during a period of time for which the Mayor has declared a public health emergency pursuant to § 7-2304.01, and for 60 days thereafter, if the summons relates to a complaint that is filed pursuant to the exception listed in § 16-1501(b). If the defendant has left the District of Columbia, or cannot be found, the summons may be served by delivering a copy thereof to the tenant, or by leaving a copy with some person above the age of sixteen years residing on or in possession of the premises sought to be recovered, and if no one is in actual possession of the premises, or residing thereon, by posting a copy of the summons on the premises where it may be conveniently read. If the summons is posted on the premises, a copy of the summons shall be mailed first class U.S. mail, postage prepaid, to the premises sought to be recovered, in the name of the person known to be in possession of the premises, or if unknown, in the name of the person occupying the premises, within 3 calendar days of the date of posting.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 581, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; June 29, 1984, D.C. Law 5-90, § 2(b), 31 DCR 2537; June 24, 2021, D.C. Law 24-9, § 404(a)(2), 68 DCR 004824.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-1502.

1973 Ed., § 16-1502.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-5103.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(2) of Coronavirus Support Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Act 24-96, June 7, 2021, 68 DCR 006025).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(a) of Eviction Moratorium Public Safety Exception Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Act 24-67, May 3, 2021, 68 DCR 004907).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(2) of Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Act 24-30, Mar. 17, 2021, 68 DCR 003101).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(2) of Coronavirus Support Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-405, Aug. 19, 2020, 67 DCR 10235).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(2) of Coronavirus Support Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-328, June 8, 2020, 67 DCR 7598).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(2) of Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-326, May 27, 2020, 67 DCR 7045).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 308(a) of COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-247, Mar. 17, 2020, 67 DCR 3093).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(2) of Coronavirus Support Temporary Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Law 24-9, June 24, 2021, 68 DCR 004824).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(2) of Coronavirus Support Temporary Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Law 23-130, Oct. 9, 2020, 67 DCR 8622).


§ 16–1503. Judgment and execution for possession.

When, upon a trial in a proceeding pursuant to this chapter, it appears that the plaintiff is entitled to the possession of the premises, judgment and execution for the possession shall be awarded in his favor, with costs; and if the plaintiff becomes nonsuit or fails to prove his right to the possession, the defendant shall have judgment and execution for his costs.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 581, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-1503.

1973 Ed., § 16-1503.


§ 16–1504. Certification to District Court upon plea of title; undertaking [Repealed]

Repealed.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 560, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(g)(2).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-1504.


§ 16–1505. Conclusiveness of judgment.

A judgment of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in a proceeding pursuant to this chapter is not a bar to any afteraction brought by either party, and does not conclude any question of title between them, where title is not pleaded by the defendants.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 582, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 560, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(g)(1).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-1505.

1973 Ed., § 16-1505.