Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter I. Findings; Purposes; Definitions.


§ 42–3501.01. Findings.

The Council of the District of Columbia finds that:

(1) There is a severe shortage of rental housing available to citizens of the District of Columbia (“District”).

(2) The shortage of housing is growing due to the withdrawal of housing units from the housing market, deterioration of existing housing units, and the lack of development of new or rehabilitation of vacant housing units.

(3) The shortage of housing is felt most acutely among low- and moderate-income renters, who are finding a shrinking pool of available dwellings.

(4) The cost of basic accommodation is so high as to cause undue hardship for many citizens of the District of Columbia.

(5) Many low- and moderate-income tenants need assistance to cover basic shelter costs, but the assistance should maximize individual choice.

(6) The Rent Stabilization Program (“Program”) has a more substantial impact upon small housing providers than on large housing providers, and small housing providers find it more difficult to use the administrative machinery of the Program.

(7) Many small housing providers are experiencing financial difficulties and are in need of some special mechanisms to assist them and their tenants.

(8) The present Rent Stabilization Program should not be continued indefinitely and new approaches must be investigated to prevent the withdrawal of rental housing units from the market and the deterioration of existing rental housing units, and to increase the rental housing supply.

(9) The housing crisis in the District has not substantially improved since the passage of the Rental Housing Act of 1980.

(10) The Rent Stabilization Program should be extended for 6 years.

(11) This extension of the Rent Stabilization Program is required to preserve the public peace, health, safety, and general welfare.


(July 17, 1985, D.C. Law 6-10, § 101, 32 DCR 3089.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 45-2501.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 42-3401.03 and § 47-1303.04.

Cross References

Real property tax assignment, applicable tenant protection provisions, see § 47-1303.04.

Rental housing conversion and sale, see § 42-3401.01 et seq.

Expiration of Law

Section 907 of D.C. Law 6-10, as amended by § 2(d) of D.C. Law 8-48, § 818 of D.C. Law 11-52, § 1202(b) of D.C. Law 13-172, and § 2 of D.C. Law 16-10, codified as § 42-3509.07, provided that all subchapters of this chapter, except III and V, shall terminate on December 31, 2010.

Mayor's Orders

See Mayor’s Order 86-27, February 6, 1986, as amended by Mayor’s Order 86-166, September 19, 1986.

Delegation of Authority

Delegation of authority pursuant to D.C. Law 6-10, see Mayor’s Order 85-167, October 2, 1985.


§ 42–3501.02. Purposes.

In enacting this chapter, the Council of the District of Columbia supports the following statutory purposes:

(1) To protect low- and moderate-income tenants from the erosion of their income from increased housing costs;

(2) To provide incentives for the construction of new rental units and the rehabilitation of vacant rental units in the District;

(3) To continue to improve the administrative machinery for the resolution of disputes and controversies between housing providers and tenants;

(4) To protect the existing supply of rental housing from conversion to other uses; and

(5) To prevent the erosion of moderately priced rental housing while providing housing providers and developers with a reasonable rate of return on their investments.


(July 17, 1985, D.C. Law 6-10, § 102, 32 DCR 3089.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 45-2502.

Expiration of Law

See Historical and Statutory Notes following § 42-3501.01.


§ 42–3501.03. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Annual fair market rental amount” means the annualized sum of the rents collected for all rental units in the housing accommodation during the base calculation year, plus an amount equal to the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) for all items, in the Washington, D.C. Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area, during each calendar year; provided, however, that if no rents were collected in the base calculation year because the housing accommodation was then under construction, the annual fair market rental amount shall be a sum equal to the rents which would have been collected during the base calculation year had the housing accommodation been 100% occupied during the entire base calculation year, the sum to be determined by appraisal, as increased by the Consumer Price Index increase under this paragraph.

(2) “Apartment improvement program” means the program which is administered with grant funds from title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. § 5301 et seq.), by the District of Columbia Department of Housing and Community Development, developed by the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation under the national Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation Act (42 U.S.C. § 8101 et seq.), and operated under the supervision of the public-private Partnership Committee, which program has been established for the purpose of finding solutions to the economic and physical distress of moderate income rental apartment buildings by joining the tenants, housing provider, noteholder, and the District government in a collective effort.

(3) “Base calculation year” means the calendar year immediately preceding the first calendar year in which a given housing accommodation is made subject to §§ 42-3502.05(f) through 42-3502.19, or any future District law limiting the amount of rent which can lawfully be demanded or received from a tenant.

(4) “Base rent” means that rent legally charged or chargeable on April 30, 1985, for the rental unit which shall be the sum of rent charged on September 1, 1983, and all rent increases authorized for that rental unit by prior rent control laws or any administrative decision issued under those laws, and any rent increases authorized by a court of competent jurisdiction.

(5) “Building improvement plan” means the agreement executed between the parties of interest, including the tenants, housing provider, and the District government, at a property being treated under the apartment improvement program, which agreement sets forth the remedies to the property’s distress, including, but not limited to:

(A) A schedule of repairs and capital improvements which, at a minimum, will bring the property into substantial compliance with the housing regulations;

(B) A schedule of services and facilities; and

(C) A schedule of rents charged and rent increases; and which agreement is monitored by the District government until it expires upon completion of all physical improvements and other scheduled activities included therein.

(6) “Capital improvement” means an improvement or renovation other than ordinary repair, replacement, or maintenance if the improvement or renovation is deemed depreciable under the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C.).

(7) “Cooperative housing association” means an association incorporated for the purpose of owning and operating residential real property in the District, the shareholders or members of which, by reason of their ownership of stock or membership certificate, a proprietary lease, or evidence of membership, are entitled to occupy a dwelling unit under the terms of a proprietary lease or occupancy agreement.

(8) “Council” means the Council of the District of Columbia.

(8A) “Division” means the Rental Accommodations Division established by § 42-3502.03 or the Rental Conversion and Sale Division established by § 42-3502.04a.

(9) “Distressed property” means a housing accommodation that:

(A) Is experiencing, and has experienced for at least 2 years, a negative cash flow;

(B) Has been cited by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs as being in substantial noncompliance with the housing regulations;

(C) Has been subject to deferred maintenance as a result of negative cash flow; and

(D) Has been in arrears on either permanent mortgage loan-payments, property tax payments, fuel and utility payments, or water or sewer fee payments.

(10) Repealed.

(11) “Dormitory” means any structure or building owned by an institution of higher education or private boarding school, in which at least 95% of the units are occupied by presently matriculated students of the institution of higher education or private boarding school.

(12) "Elderly tenant" means a tenant who is 62 years of age or older.

(13) “Equity” means the portion of the assessed value of a housing accommodation that exceeds the total value of all encumbrances on the housing accommodation.

(13A) "Home and community-based services waiver provider" means an entity that provides residential habilitation or supported living services under the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Waiver for Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities program authorized by section 1915(c) of the Social Security Act, approved August 13, 1981 (95 Stat. 809; 42 U.S.C. § 1396n).

(14) “Housing accommodation” means any structure or building in the District containing 1 or more rental units and the land appurtenant thereto. The term “housing accommodation” does not include any hotel or inn with a valid certificate of occupancy or any structure, including any room in the structure, used primarily for transient occupancy and in which at least 60% of the rooms devoted to living quarters for tenants or guests were used for transient occupancy as of May 20, 1980. For the purposes of this chapter, a rental unit shall be deemed to be used for transient occupancy only if the landlord of the rental unit is subject to and pays the sales tax imposed by § 47-2001(n)(1)(C).

(15) “Housing provider” means a landlord, an owner, lessor, sublessor, assignee, or their agent, or any other person receiving or entitled to receive rents or benefits for the use or occupancy of any rental unit within a housing accommodation within the District.

(16) “Housing regulations” means the most recent edition of the Housing Regulations of the District of Columbia as established by Commissioner’s Order No. 55-1503, effective August 11, 1955.

(16A) "Independent agency" means any board or commission of the District of Columbia government not subject to the administrative control of the Mayor.

(17) “Initial leasing period” means that period for which the first tenant of a rental unit rents the rental unit. For units described in § 42-3502.19, the first tenant is the tenant who rents the rental unit immediately after the date it is first offered for rent as a rental unit which is not otherwise exempt from this chapter.

(18) “Interest payments” means the amount of interest paid during a reporting period on a mortgage or deed of trust on a housing accommodation.

(19) “Management fee” means the amount paid to a managing agent and any pro rata salaries of off-site administrative personnel paid by the housing provider, if the duties of the personnel are connected with the operation of the housing accommodation.

(20) “Maximum possible rental income” means the sum of the rents for all rental units in the housing accommodation, whether occupied or not, computed over a base period of the 12 consecutive months within the 15 months preceding the date of any filing required or permitted under this chapter.

(21) “Mayor” means the Office of the Mayor of the District of Columbia.

(22) “Operating expenses” means the expenses required for the operation of a housing accommodation for the 12 consecutive months within the 15 months preceding the date of its use in any computation required by any provision of this chapter, including, but not limited to, expenses for salaries of on-site personnel, supplies, painting, maintenance and repairs, utilities, professional fees, on-site offices, and insurance.

(23) “Other income which is derived from the housing accommodation” means any income, other than rents, which a housing provider earns because of his or her interest in a housing accommodation, including, but not limited to, fees, commissions, income from vending machines, income from laundry facilities, and income from parking and recreational facilities.

(24) “Person” means an individual, corporation, partnership, association, joint venture, business entity, or an organized group of individuals, and their respective successors and assignees.

(25) “Property taxes” means the amount levied by the District government for real property tax on a housing accommodation during a tax year.

(25A) "Qualifying income" means household income, as defined by § 47-1806.06(b)(2), that is no greater than 60% of the area median income, as defined by § 42-2801(1).

(26) “Related facility” means any facility, furnishing, or equipment made available to a tenant by a housing provider, the use of which is authorized by the payment of the rent charged for a rental unit, including any use of a kitchen, bath, laundry facility, parking facility, or the common use of any common room, yard, or other common area.

(27) “Related services” means services provided by a housing provider, required by law or by the terms of a rental agreement, to a tenant in connection with the use and occupancy of a rental unit, including repairs, decorating and maintenance, the provision of light, heat, hot and cold water, air conditioning, telephone answering or elevator services, janitorial services, or the removal of trash and refuse.

(28) “Rent” means the entire amount of money, money’s worth, benefit, bonus, or gratuity demanded, received, or charged by a housing provider as a condition of occupancy or use of a rental unit, its related services, and its related facilities.

(29) “Rent ceiling” means that amount defined in or computed under § 42-3502.06.

(29A) "Rent charged" means the entire amount of money, money's worth, benefit, bonus, or gratuity a tenant must actually pay to a housing provider as a condition of occupancy or use of a rental unit, its related services, and its related facilities, pursuant to the Rent Stabilization Program.

(29B) "Rent Stabilization Program" means the program and related requirements established by subchapter II of this chapter.

(29C) "Rent surcharge" means a charge added to the rent charged for a rental unit pursuant to a capital improvement petition, hardship petition, or a substantial rehabilitation, and not included as part of the rent charged.

(30) “Rental Accommodations Act of 1975” means the Rental Accommodations Act of 1975, effective November 1, 1975 (D.C. Law 1-33).

(31) “Rental Housing Act of 1977” means the Rental Housing Act of 1977, effective March 16, 1978 (D.C. Law 2-54).

(32) “Rental Housing Act of 1980” means the Rental Housing Act of 1980, effective March 4, 1981 (D.C. Law 3-131; Chapter 40 of this title).

(33) “Rental unit” means any part of a housing accommodation as defined in paragraph (14) of this section which is rented or offered for rent for residential occupancy and includes any apartment, efficiency apartment, room, single-family house and the land appurtenant thereto, suite of rooms, or duplex.

(33A) “Single-room-occupancy housing” means a rental housing accommodation comprised of rental units, each of which is intended for occupancy and is occupied by a single adult either living alone or living with not more than 1 child of age 6 years or younger, and that may, but is not required to, contain sanitary and food-preparation facilities.

(34) “Substantial rehabilitation” means any improvement to or renovation of a housing accommodation for which:

(A) The building permit was granted after January 31, 1973; and

(B) The total expenditure for the improvement or renovation equals or exceeds 50% of the assessed value of the housing accommodation before the rehabilitation.

(35) “Substantial violation” means the presence of any housing condition, the existence of which violates the housing regulations, or any other statute or regulation relative to the condition of residential premises and may endanger or materially impair the health and safety of any tenant or person occupying the property.

(36) “Tenant” includes a tenant, subtenant, lessee, sublessee, or other person entitled to the possession, occupancy, or the benefits of any rental unit owned by another person.

(36A) "Tenant with a disability" means a tenant who has a disability as defined in section 3(1)(A) of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, approved July 26, 1990 (104 Stat. 329; 42 U.S.C. § 12102(1)(A)).

(37) “Uncollected rent” means the amount of rent and other charges due for at least 30 days but not received from tenants at the time any statement, form, or petition is filed under this chapter.

(38) “Vacancy loss” means the amount of rent not collectable due to vacant units in a housing accommodation. No amount shall be included in vacancy loss for units occupied by a housing provider or his or her employees or otherwise not offered for rent.


(July 17, 1985, D.C. Law 6-10, § 103, 32 DCR 3089; Aug. 25, 1994, D.C. Law 10-155, § 2(a), 41 DCR 4873; Sept. 18, 2007, D.C. Law 17-20, § 2003(a), 54 DCR 7052; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 184(a), 56 DCR 1117; Sept. 26, 2012, D.C. Law 19-171, § 103, 59 DCR 6190; Oct. 8, 2016, D.C. Law 21-160, § 5032(a), 63 DCR 10775; Apr. 7, 2017, D.C. Law 21-239, § 3(a), 64 DCR 1588; Oct. 30, 2018, D.C. Law 22-168, § 2282(a), 65 DCR 9388; Feb. 22, 2019, D.C. Law 22-200, § 2(a), 65 DCR 12066; Mar. 13, 2019, D.C. Law 22-248, § 2(a), 66 DCR 973.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 45-2503.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 6-751.11, § 42-903, § 42-2851.02, § 42-3171.01, § 42-3173.01, § 42-3502.06, § 42-3502.09, § 42-3502.21, § 42-3508.04, § 47-830, and § 47-865.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-20 rewrote par. (10), which had read as follows: “(10) ‘Division’ means the Rental Accommodations and Conversion Division as continued by § 42-3502.01.”

D.C. Law 17-353 validated a previously made technical correction in par. (5)(C).

The 2012 amendment by D.C. Law 19-171 added (8A); and repealed (10), which formerly read: “‘Division’ means the Rental Accommodations Division established by § 42-3502.03 or the Rental Conversion and Sale Division established by § 42-3502.04a.”

Cross References

Improvement program for distressed property, see § 42-3508.04.

Expiration of Law

See Historical and Statutory Notes following § 42-3501.01.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2282(a) of Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2018 (D.C. Act 22-458, Oct. 3, 2018, 65 DCR 11212).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2282(a) of Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2018 (D.C. Act 22-434, July 30, 2018, 65 DCR 8200).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2003(a), of Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-74, July 25, 2007, 54 DCR 7549).

Short Title

Short title: See Historical and Statutory Notes following § 42-3501.01.

Editor's Notes

Section 3 of D.C. Law 22-248 provided that within 180 days after the effective date of D.C. Law 22-248, the Rental Housing Commission, pursuant to Title I of the District of Columbia Administrative Procedure Act, approved October 21, 1968 (82 Stat. 1204; D.C. Official Code § 2-501 et seq.), shall issue rules to implement the provisions of D.C. Law 22-248, including revisions necessary to update relevant housing provider reporting forms according to the requirements of D.C. Law 22-248.

D.C. Law 3-131; Chapter 40 of this title”, referred to in (32), expired, except for subchapter V, April 30, 1985; subchapter V was repealed by § 905 of D.C. Law 6-10, effective July 17, 1985.