Emilie Fairbanks, Esq.

202 681 4694 office

202 688 1864 fax

419 7th Street NW, Suite 405

Washington, DC 20004


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Winter is Coming

In DC winter is a very hard time to be a landlord. Why? 

1) Evicting a Difficult Tenant Becomes Impossible: DC does not perform evictions when the weather is too cold, snowing, or raining. That is a lot of November through February. Does that mean landlords should put off suing non-paying or problem tenants until spring? Just the opposite. Getting your problem tenant on the list for eviction is more important than ever this time of year. Evictions are performed in the order tenants are put on the list. If your tenant isn't on that list until early spring you will have to wait until the backlog of evictions from winter are done. 

2) Landlords Have Additional Responsibiloties Under the Housing Code: Landlords must have their heating system inspected and serviced every fall. Get it done. If your heating system has problems during the winter, fix it. Right away. Judges and inspectors treat heat issues as an emergency so you should too. The temperature must be maintained at 68 degrees during the day and 65 degrees at night. 

3) Failure to Remove Snow and Ice Will Get You a Fine: Even if your lease says your tenant is responsible for snow and ice removal in a single family home, the city will still send the fine to you, the homeowner, if it isn't done. So save yourself time and hassle and pay a service to clear snow and ice instead of depending on the tenant. If you own a multi-unit building you are always responsible so make sure it gets done ASAP. A tenant who falls on an ice sidewalk is bad news. 

Contact us if you are a landlord in need of legal advice this winter. 


DC Department of Housing and Community Development Holding Saturday College

DC Department of Housing and Community Development is holding what it is calling Saturday college on November 14th. They are holding seminars on Housing Regulation Administration Overview, Allowable Rent Increases, Code Violations, Notices to Vacate, and What Happens When a Landlord Wants to Sell. This would be a useful program for DC landlords and prospective DC landlords. Check out the website for how to register: http://dhcd.dc.gov/event/housing-regulation-administration-saturday-college


Changes to DC Landlord & Tenant Court Coming in 2016

There are changes coming to the District of Columbia Landlord and Tenant Court. Not changes to the law, changes in the way court days will be scheduled. If you are a landlord who has previously filed cases don’t let these changes surprise you. You may know that DC L&T runs and “overflow” courtroom upstairs from the main courtroom in B-53. Currently, cases are sent to that courtroom throughout the day as needed to clear backlogs in the main courtroom. If you’ve been to Landlord & Tenant Court in the past couple years you might say “wow that’s not working.” It turns out the judges and clerks agree, so they are making additional changes to the system. In early 2016 the following changes will be implemented: 

Cases will be divided by type and courtroom at the beginning of the day. In Courtroom B-109, the traditional L&T courtroom across from the clerk’s office, Initial Hearings, cases coming to court for the first time, and Further Initial Hearings, cases coming to court for the second time, usually because something happened the first time that had to be resolved before this hearing, will continue to take place at 9 a.m., after roll call. At 10 a.m. more Further Initial Hearings and Status Hearings will take place. At 11 a.m. Trial Status hearings will take place. A trial status usually just establishes that all the parties for a trial have arrived at court, how many witnesses are going to appear for each side, and if mediation needs to take place. The actual trial will take place later in the day. 

In Courtroom B-53, one floor up from the clerk’s office, cases will also start at 9 a.m. This is a big change. Motions, Hearings on Applications to Terminate Stay, Hearings on Notices of Intent to Seek a Writ of Restitution will all be heard in that courtroom at 9 a.m.  You do not need to go downstairs for roll call or to hear the opening speech first. In fact if you did you could miss your hearing. At 10 a.m. Ex Parte Proof Hearings, Evidentiary Hearings, Bell Hearings, and Accountings will be heard in B-53.  

Landlord and Tenant court can be chaotic and confusing. Knowing where you need to be and at what time can mean the difference between success and having to refile your case. If you are filing something and you aren’t sure what courtroom you need to go to or what time you need to arrive make sure you ask the filing clerk to clarify for you. If you need additional help and would like an attorney to represent you in court or you would just like to discuss your options, contact us


Urban Turf's Essential Guide to Being an Amateur Landlord in DC

Urban Turf, an endlessly useful blog if you are a DC landlord, published an updated Essential Guide to being an Amateur Landlord in DC. The guide takes you through steps like getting a licence, talking to a lawyer about your lease, and screening your tenants. Give it a read and check out their blog for updates on DC rental and real estate issues. 


DHCD to Hold Program on Notices to Vacate

This looks like a good program for small and individual landlords. See the DHCD website for more information on all their educational programs at: http://dhcd.dc.gov