Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter IX. Miscellaneous Provisions.


§ 42–3509.01. Penalties.

(a) Any person who knowingly (1) demands or receives any rent for a rental unit in excess of the maximum allowable rent applicable to that rental unit under the provisions of subchapter II of this chapter, or (2) substantially reduces or eliminates related services previously provided for a rental unit, shall be held liable by the Rent Administrator or Rental Housing Commission, as applicable, for the amount by which the rent exceeds the applicable rent charged or for treble that amount (in the event of bad faith) and/or for a roll back of the rent to the amount the Rent Administrator or Rental Housing Commission determines.

(a-1) Any housing provider who knowingly or willfully violates § 42-3505.31, or § 42-3505.01(a), regarding a prohibited eviction for the nonpayment of a late fee, shall be liable to the tenant for the amount by which the late fee exceeds the allowable late fee, or for treble that amount in the event of bad faith, and shall be subject to a civil fine of at least $100 and not more than $ 5,000 for each violation.

(a-2) A housing provider found to have violated any provision of section 533, section 534, or section 535, or section 304 of Title 14 of the Housing Regulations of the District of Columbia, issued August 11, 1955 (C.C. 55-1503; 14 DCMR § 304), shall be liable to the tenant for treble damages if the housing provider is found to have acted in bad faith.

(b) Any person who wilfully (1) collects a rent increase after it has been disapproved under this chapter, until and unless the disapproval has been reversed by a court of competent jurisdiction, (2) makes a false statement in any document filed under this chapter, (3) commits any other act in violation of any provision of this chapter or of any final administrative order issued under this chapter, or (4) fails to meet obligations required under this chapter shall be subject to a civil fine of not more than $5,000 for each violation.

(c) Any housing provider who has provided relocation assistance under this chapter may bring a civil action to recover the amount of relocation assistance paid to any person who was not eligible to receive the assistance.

(d) Any person who knowingly or wilfully makes a false or fraudulent application, report, or statement in order to obtain, or for the purpose of obtaining, any grant or payment under the Tenant Assistance Program, or any person ceasing to become eligible for the grant or payment and who does not immediately notify the Department of his or her ineligibility, shall be fined not less than $50 and not more than $5,000 for each offense. A person who knowingly and wilfully makes false or fraudulent reports or statements, or of failing to notify promptly the Department of the person’s ineligibility, shall repay to the District government all amounts paid by the District government in reliance on the false or fraudulent application, report, or statement, or all amounts paid after eligibility ceases, and shall be liable for interest on the amounts at the rate of 1/2 of 1% per month until repaid.

(e) A housing provider who discriminates against a family receiving or eligible to receive Tenant Assistance Program assistance, an elderly tenant, or a family with children when renting housing accommodations shall be fined not more than $5,000 for each violation. Repeat violators shall be fined not more than $15,000 for each violation. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as requiring the rental of a rental unit to a tenant with a child in the case of a single-room-occupancy rental unit designed for occupancy by a single adult living alone.

(f) Civil fines, penalties, and fees may be imposed as alternative sanctions for any infraction of subsections (b), (d), and (e) of this section, or any rules or regulations issued under the authority of these subsections, pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2. Adjudication of any infraction of these subsections shall be pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2.

(g) Any person who knowingly, wilfully, and in bad faith makes a false or fraudulent statement to receive a tax credit for not assessing capital improvement increases to an elderly tenant or tenant with a disability shall be subject to a fine of not more than $5,000 for each violation.

(h) If a housing provider's challenge, pursuant to § 42-3502.24(h)(2), to a tenant's registration to establish elderly or disability status under § 42-3502.24(d) is determined to have been frivolous or made in bad faith, the housing provider shall be deemed to have made an unlawful demand for rent, and shall be held liable to the tenant, as applicable, for:

(1) At a minimum, an amount equal to 2% of the total annual current rent charged;

(2) At a maximum, an amount equal to the total annual current rent charged; and

(3) In addition to the penalties specified in paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection, treble damages based upon the amounts prescribed in those paragraphs.


(July 17, 1985, D.C. Law 6-10, § 901, 32 DCR 3089; Oct. 5, 1985, D.C. Law 6-42, § 408, 32 DCR 4450; Feb. 24, 1987, D.C. Law 6-167, § 3, 33 DCR 6732; Oct. 2, 1987, D.C. Law 7-30, § 5, 34 DCR 5304; Mar. 8, 1991, D.C. Law 8-237, § 23, 38 DCR 314; Sept. 26, 1992, D.C. Law 9-154, § 2(c), 39 DCR 5673; Aug. 25, 1994, D.C. Law 10-155, § 2(e), 41 DCR 4873; Aug. 5, 2006, D.C. Law 16-145, § 2(a), 53 DCR 4889; Apr. 24, 2007, D.C. Law 16-305,§ 67(f), 53 DCR 6198; Dec. 8, 2016, D.C. Law 21-172, § 2(d), 63 DCR 12959; Feb. 18, 2017, D.C. Law 21-210, § 2(e), 63 DCR 15302; Apr. 7, 2017, D.C. Law 21-239, § 3(h), 64 DCR 1588.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 45-2591.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 42-3505.05.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-145, in subsec. (a), substituted “rent charged” for “rent ceiling”.

D.C. Law 16-305, in subsec. (g), substituted “tenant or tenant with a disability” for “or disabled tenant”.

Expiration of Law

Section 907 of D.C. Law 6-10, as amended by § 2(d) of D.C. Law 8-48 and § 818 of D.C. Law 11-52, provided that all subchapters of the act, except III and V, shall terminate on December 31, 2000.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Rent Control Reform Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-470, July 31, 2006, 53 DCR 6772).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 4 of Tenant Assistance Program Amendment Temporary Act of 1987 (D.C. Law 7-48, December 10, 1987, law notification 34 DCR 8107).

Editor's Notes

Application of 9-154: Section 3 of D.C. Law 9-154 provided that the act shall not apply to any increase in a rent ceiling for a rental unit, or to any increase in the rent charged for a rental unit, when the capital improvement petition has been approved by the Rent Administrator and the resultant rent increase was implemented prior to September 26, 1992.

For temporary amendment to the termination provision of D.C. Law 6-10, see § 818 of the Omnibus Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 1995 (D.C. Act 11-124, July 27, 1995, 42 DCR 4160).


§ 42–3509.02. Attorney’s fees.

The Rent Administrator, Rental Housing Commission, or a court of competent jurisdiction may award reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in any action under this chapter, except actions for eviction authorized under § 42-3505.01.


(July 17, 1985, D.C. Law 6-10, § 902, 32 DCR 3089.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 45-2592.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 42-3505.06.

Expiration of Law

See Historical and Statutory Notes following § 42-3509.01.


§ 42–3509.03. Supersedure.

This chapter shall be considered to supersede the Rental Accommodations Act of 1975, the Rental Housing Act of 1977, and the Rental Housing Act of 1980, except that a petition filed with the Rent Administrator under the Rental Housing Act of 1980 shall be determined under the provisions of the Rental Housing Act of 1980.


(July 17, 1985, D.C. Law 6-10, § 903, 32 DCR 3089.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 45-2593.

Cross References

Rental Accommodations Act of 1975, and the Rental Housing Acts of 1977 and 1980, definitions, see § 42-3501.03.

Expiration of Law

See Historical and Statutory Notes following § 42-3509.01.


§ 42–3509.04. Service.

(a) Unless otherwise provided by Rental Housing Commission regulations, any information or document required to be served upon any person shall be served upon that person, or the representative designated by that person or by the law to receive service of the documents. When a party has appeared through a representative of record, service shall be made upon that representative. Service upon a person may be completed by any of the following ways:

(1) By handing the document to the person, by leaving it at the person’s place of business with some responsible person in charge, or by leaving it at the person’s usual place of residence with a person of suitable age and discretion;

(2) By telegram, when the content of the information or document is given to a telegraph company properly addressed and prepaid;

(3) By mail or deposit with the United States Postal Service properly stamped and addressed; or

(4) By any other means that is in conformity with an order of the Rental Housing Commission or the Rent Administrator in any proceeding.

(b) No rent increases, whether under this chapter, the Rental Accommodations Act of 1975, the Rental Housing Act of 1977, the Rental Housing Act of 1980, or any administrative decisions issued under these acts, shall be effective until the first day on which rent is normally paid occurring more than 30 days after notice of the increase is given to the tenant.


(July 17, 1985, D.C. Law 6-10, § 904, 32 DCR 3089.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 45-2594.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 42-3502.08, § 42-3502.09, and § 42-3502.16.

Cross References

Rental Accommodations Act of 1975, and the Rental Housing Acts of 1977 and 1980, definitions, see § 42-3501.03.

Rent increases above base rent, notice of increase in compliance with this section, see § 42-3502.08.

Expiration of Law

See Historical and Statutory Notes following § 42-3509.01.


§ 42–3509.05. [Reserved].


§ 42–3509.06. [Reserved].


§ 42–3509.07. Termination.

All subchapters of this chapter, except subchapters III and V and § 42-3509.08, shall terminate on December 31, 2020.


(July 17, 1985, D.C. Law 6-10, § 907, 32 DCR 3089; Oct. 19, 1989, D.C. Law 8-48, § 2(c), 36 DCR 5788; Sept. 26, 1995, D.C. Law 11-52, § 818, 42 DCR 3684; Oct. 19, 2000, D.C. Law 13-172, § 1202(b), 47 DCR 6308; July 22, 2005, D.C. Law 16-10, § 2, 52 DCR 5244; Mar. 21, 2009, D.C. Law 17-319,§ 4(a), 56 DCR 214; Mar. 12, 2011, D.C. Law 18-328, § 2, 58 DCR 16; Sept. 26, 2012, D.C. Law 19-171, § 105, 59 DCR 6190.)

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-172 amended the termination date.

D.C. Law 16-10 rewrote the section which had read:

“All subchapters of this chapter, except subchapters III and V, shall terminate on December 31, 2005.”

D.C. Law 17-319 substituted “except subchapters III and V and § 42-3509.08” for “except subchapters III and V”.

D.C. Law 18-328 rewrote the section, which formerly read:

“All subchapters of this chapter, except subchapters III and V and § 42-3509.08, shall terminate on December 31, 2010.”

The 2012 amendment by D.C. Law 19-171 added “and § 42-3509.08.”

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 1202(b) of the Fiscal Year 2001 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2000 (D.C. Act 13-376, July 24, 2000, 47 DCR 6574).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 1202(b) of the Fiscal Year 2001 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2000 (D.C. Act 13-438, October 20, 2000, 47 DCR 8740).

For temporary (90 day) amendment, see § 4(a) of Abatement of Nuisance Properties and Tenant Receivership Emergency Amendment Act of 2008 (D.C. Act 17-420, July 8, 2008, 55 DCR 7703).

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 4(b) of Abatement of Nuisance Properties and Tenant Receivership Emergency Amendment Act of 2008 (D.C. Act 17-420, July 8, 2008, 55 DCR 7703).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 4(a) of Abatement of Nuisance Properties and Tenant Receivership Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2008 (D.C. Act 17-563, October 27, 2008, 55 DCR 12019).

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 4(b) of Abatement of Nuisance Properties and Tenant Receivership Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2008 (D.C. Act 17-563, October 27, 2008, 55 DCR 12019).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of Rental Housing Act Extension Emergency Amendment Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-675, December 28, 2010, 58 DCR 132).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of Rental Housing Act Extension Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2011 (D.C. Act 19-31, March 15, 2011, 58 DCR 2604).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 4(a) of Abatement of Nuisance Properties and Tenant Receivership Temporary amendment Act of 2008 (D.C. Law 17-237, October 21, 2008, law notification 55 DCR 11700).


§ 42–3509.08. Inspection of rental housing.

(a) Notwithstanding any other law or rule to the contrary, for the purpose of determining whether any housing accommodation is in compliance with applicable housing rules or construction code rules, the Mayor may enter upon and into any housing accommodation in the District, during all reasonable hours, to inspect the same; provided, that if a tenant of a housing accommodation does not give permission to inspect that portion of the premises under the tenant’s exclusive control, the Mayor shall not enter that portion of the premises unless the Mayor has:

(1) A valid administrative search warrant pursuant to subsection (d) of this section which permits the inspection; or

(2) A reasonable basis to believe that exigent circumstances require immediate entry into that portion of the premises to prevent an imminent danger to the public health or welfare.

(b) Any person who shall hinder, interfere with, or prevent any inspection authorized by this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine not exceeding $100, by imprisonment for a period not exceeding 3 months, or both.

(c) The Mayor may apply to a judge of the District of Columbia for an administrative search warrant to enter any premises to conduct any inspection authorized by subsection (a) of this section.

(d) A judge may issue the warrant if the judge finds that:

(1) The applicant is authorized or required by law to make the inspection;

(2) The applicant has demonstrated that the inspection of the premises is sought as a result of:

(A) Evidence of an existing violation of the housing regulations, codified in Title 14 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, the construction codes, codified in Title 12 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, or other law; or

(B) A general and neutral administrative plan to conduct periodic inspections relating to issuance or renewal of housing business licenses or for conducting fire or life safety inspections;

(3) The owner, tenant, or other individual in charge of the property has denied access to the property, or, after making a reasonable effort, the applicant has been unable to contact any of these individuals; and

(4) The inspection is sought for health or safety-related purposes.


(July 17, 1985, D.C. Law 6-10, § 908; as added Mar. 21, 2009, D.C. Law 17-319, § 4(b), 56 DCR 214.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 4(b) of Abatement of Nuisance Properties and Tenant Receivership Emergency Amendment Act of 2008 (D.C. Act 17-420, July 8, 2008, 55 DCR 7703).

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 4(b) of Abatement of Nuisance Properties and Tenant Receivership Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2008 (D.C. Act 17-563, October 27, 2008, 55 DCR 12019).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) addition, see § 4(b) of Abatement of Nuisance Properties and Tenant Receivership Temporary amendment Act of 2008 (D.C. Law 17-237, October 21, 2008, law notification 55 DCR 11700).


§ 42–3509.09. Restrictions on tobacco smoking.

(a)(1) Smoking shall be prohibited in an indoor common area of a multifamily rental accommodation and outdoors within 25 feet of an entrance or a window of a multifamily rental accommodation.

(2) A housing provider may designate a portion n indoor common area as a designated smoking area. The designated smoking area shall:

(A) Be as small as is practicable to accommodate the number of smokers expected to use the area;

(B) Have a fan-based ventilation system that exhausts the smoke directly to the outside of the building; provided, that the venting duct shall not be within 25 feet of a window or entrance of a rental unit, or a building entrance; and

(C) Be identified with conspicuous signs as a "designated smoking area".

(3) No tenant may be evicted from a rental unit for a violation of this section; provided, that nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent a housing provider from including a smoking prohibition in a lease or rental agreement.

(b)(1) In a common area of a multifamily rental accommodation, a housing provider shall post or cause to be posted signs that read "No Smoking. Need to quit? Contact the D.C. Quitline" and which includes the current telephone number for the D.C. Quitline and the internationally recognized "no smoking" symbol.

(2) It shall be unlawful for any person to obscure, remove, deface, mutilate, or destroy any sign posted in accordance with the provisions of this section.

(c)(1) The Department of Health may conduct inspections and assess penalties at all places where smoking is prohibited by this section to ensure that smoking in such places is not taking place and that all signage required under this section is posted.

(2) The housing provider of a multifamily rental accommodation where smoking is prohibited pursuant to this section shall remind persons observed smoking in violation of this section to refrain from smoking.

(d) Any person who violates this section by:

(1) Smoking in a "no smoking" area shall be assessed a civil fine of no less than $10 nor more than $50 for the first violation and no less than $50 nor more than $100 for each second or subsequent violation;

(2) Obscuring, removing, defacing, mutilating, or destroying a sign posted in accordance with the provisions of this section shall be assessed a civil fine of no more than $100; and

(3)(A) Failing to post or cause to be posted "no smoking" signs or failing to warn a smoker or user of tobacco products observed to be smoking or using tobacco products in violation of this section to stop doing so, as required by subsections (b)(1) and (c)(2) of this section, shall be assessed a civil fine of no more than $100.

(b) Each day that the violation of subsection (b)(1) of this section continues shall constitute a separate violation, and the civil penalties provided for in this section shall be applicable to each separate offense; provided, that such civil penalties shall not be levied against an employee or officer of a branch, agency, or instrumentality of the District government who is acting in an official capacity.[ ]

(e) For the purposes of this section, the term:

(1) "Common area" means those areas of a multifamily rental accommodation available for the use of all tenants of the housing accommodation, including a community room, community bathroom, lobby, hallway, laundry room, stairway, offices, elevator, recreational area, and other similar areas.

(2) "Multifamily rental accommodation" means a housing accommodation of 2 rental units or more, except for single-family accommodations, as defined in § 42-3501.03(14).

(3) "Smoking" means the inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying of a lighted or heated cigar, cigarette, pipe, electronic smoking device, or any other tobacco or plant product intended for human consumption through inhalation, in any manner or in any form.

(f) The Mayor, pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2, may issue rules to implement the provisions of this section.


(July 17, 1985, D.C. Law 6-10, § 509[909]; as added Mar. 22, 2019, D.C. Law 22-260, § 2, 66 DCR 1370.)