Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 1. Rights and Liabilities of Hotels and Lodging Houses.


§ 30–101. Liability for loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal property of guests.

(a) If a hotel, motel, or similar establishment in the District of Columbia which provides lodging to transient guests: (1) provides a suitable depository (other than a checkroom) for the safekeeping of personal property (other than a motor vehicle); and (2) displays conspicuously in the guest and public rooms of that establishment a printed copy of this section (or summary thereof); that establishment shall not be liable for the loss or destruction of, or damage to, any personal property of a guest or patron not deposited for safekeeping, except that this sentence shall not apply with respect to the liability of that establishment for loss or destruction of, or damage to, any personal property retained by a guest in his room if the property is such property as is usual, common, or prudent for a guest to retain in his room. In the case of any personal property of a guest or patron deposited in such a depository for safekeeping, that establishment shall be liable for the loss or destruction of, or damage to, that property to the extent of the lesser of $1,000 or the fair market value of the property at the time of its loss, destruction, or damage.

(b) If a hotel, motel, or similar establishment in the District of Columbia which provides lodging to transient guests maintains a checkroom (conspicuously designated as such) where guests and patrons may deposit personal property, that establishment shall, if it conspicuously posts a printed copy of this section (or summary thereof), be liable for the loss or destruction of, or damage to, that property only to the extent of the lesser of $200 or the fair market value of the property at the time of its loss, destruction, or damage unless the destruction or damage is caused by its agent or servant.


(Dec. 8, 1970, 84 Stat. 1395, Pub. L. 91-537, § 1.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 34-101.

1973 Ed., § 34-106.


§ 30–102. Lien on personal property of guests or patrons for amount due; satisfaction by public sale; application of proceeds.

(a) A hotel, motel, or similar establishment in the District of Columbia which provides lodging to transient guests has a lien upon and may retain possession of, any personal property belonging to, or under the control of, a guest or patron of that establishment, for the amount due that establishment from that guest or patron for lodging, food, or other item of value, except that the amount of the lien authorized by this subsection may not exceed $1,000.

(b)(1) If, within 30 days after his property has been retained under subsection (a) of this section, a guest or patron fails to pay the establishment retaining that property any amount due that establishment for lodging, food, or other item of value, that establishment may sell that property at a public sale. Prior to that sale, the establishment shall send, by registered or certified mail, to the last known address of that guest or patron a demand for payment of the amount due, and shall publish a notice of sale once a week for 3 successive weeks in a daily newspaper of general circulation published in the District of Columbia. That notice shall state:

(A) That the purpose of the sale is to satisfy the lien granted by subsection (a) of this section;

(B) The amount for which that lien is granted, including storage charges;

(C) The day, time, and place of sale; and

(D) A description of the property including, in the case of the sale of a motor vehicle, the make, type, year, model number, serial number, engine number, and the year and license registration number of that motor vehicle.

(2) In the case of the sale of a motor vehicle, a notice shall be given to any person whose security interest, lien, or other claim upon that motor vehicle is recorded with the motor vehicle registry of the state (including the District of Columbia) of registration of that motor vehicle. That notice shall be given at least 15 days prior to the date of sale.

(c)(1) The proceeds of a sale of property made under subsection (b) of this section shall be applied as follows:

(A) To cover the expenses of the storage and sale of the property; and

(B) To discharge any security interest, lien, or other claim upon the property in the order of priority provided for by law.

(2) Any amount remaining after the application provided for by subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be paid to the party entitled to the remainder if that party is known and can be located. If that party is not known or cannot be located within one year after the date of the sale, the establishment shall pay, within a reasonable time, the remainder to the government of the District of Columbia.


(Dec. 8, 1970, 84 Stat. 1395, Pub. L. 91-537, § 2.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 34-102.

1973 Ed., § 34-107.


§ 30–103. Sale of unclaimed personal property; application of proceeds.

(a)(1) A hotel, motel, or similar establishment in the District of Columbia which provides lodging to transient guests may sell at a public auction any personal property that has been deposited for safekeeping, checked, or left unclaimed at that establishment for more than 90 days. If the owner of that property is known, the establishment shall, at least 15 days before that sale is held, send, by registered or certified mail, a notice to the owner at his last known address stating:

(A) That the purpose of the sale is to dispose of unclaimed property;

(B) The amount of storage and other charges (including interest on those charges) against that property;

(C) The day, time, and place of sale; and

(D) A description of the property including, in the case of the sale of a motor vehicle, the make, type, year, model number, serial number, engine number, and the year and license registration number of that motor vehicle.

(2) In the case of the sale of a motor vehicle, a notice shall be given to any person whose security interest, lien, or other claim upon that motor vehicle is recorded with the motor vehicle registry of the state (including the District of Columbia) of registration of that motor vehicle. That notice shall be given at least 15 days prior to the date of sale.

(b)(1) The proceeds of a sale of property made under subsection (a) of this section shall be applied as follows:

(A) To cover the expenses of the storage and sale of the property (including interest on those charges); and

(B) To discharge any security interest, lien, or other claim upon the property in the order of priority provided for by law.

(2) Any amount remaining after the application provided for by subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be paid to the party entitled to the remainder if that party is known and can be located. If that party is not known or cannot be located within one year after the date of the sale, the establishment shall pay, within a reasonable time, the remainder to the government of the District of Columbia.


(Dec. 8, 1970, 84 Stat. 1396, Pub. L. 91-537, § 3.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 34-103.

1973 Ed., § 34-108.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 41-115.