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Friday
Aug122011

Trans-Lux or the Right of Redemption: How, When, and How Much

Trans-Lux is just a specific way to refer to the right to redeem in DC.   It is important to understand exactly what the right to redeem entails.  In DC, after a judgment for non-payment of rent, until an eviction has been completed by the Marshalls service, the tenant always has the right to pay all of the money due, and keep the apartment. 

In this post, I want to look specifically at what costs are included in the redemption amount, how it can be paid, and when it can be paid. 

Landlords need to understand what they can require a tenant to pay in order to redeem, both to avoid unlawful evictions, which are costly for everyone involved, and so that they can avoid not collecting everything they are entitled to and creating debts that are uncollectable.  The amount has to match the amount permitted on the Notice to Tenant of Payment Required to Avoid Eviction, or Form 6, which the landlord must submit to the court after the judgment, and is signed by the judge and mailed to the tenant.  This form has to be filed within five days of the court judgment or the landlord has to get permission of the court to file it late. 

The writ with the dates of the possible eviction is mailed by the Marshalls service.  The writ is the only notice legally required to the tenant of the dates on which they may be evicted.  The landlord gets notice the day before that the eviction is taking place.  Some landlords then let the tenant know, and there are valid reasons for doing so, but all I will note is that it is not legally required and that it can lead to tenants going to court and asking for stays, something I have seen significantly drag out the process for the landlord and cost them a great deal of money.     

The tenant must pay 1) all of the rent due at the time of the payment, meaning if it is September 1st instead of August 30th, they must pay September rent as well as all the back rent, 2) the late fees permitted by the court on the Form 6, usually less than the amount of the late fees allowed in the lease, sometimes zero, 3) the court costs, also listed on the Form 6 and on the original complaint, and 4) the writ fee of $175 if the landlord has gotten a writ of restitution at the time the tenant redeems.  To redeem the tenant must pay in full, to the penny, so the landlord must be clear about the amount.  Most landlords only accept certified funds for redemption, i.e., money orders, cashier’s checks, or cash. 

The landlord must allow the tenant to redeem up until Marshalls have completed the eviction.  I have litigated that particular issue and no one knows exactly what it means, but practically, if the Marshalls are still on the property, they usually require the landlord accept the rent.  Best practice is for the landlord or a representative of the landlord capable of accepting rent to be physically present at every eviction.  

Evictions are messy and difficult.  Understanding the legal process and strictly following it is the best way to avoid the threat of wrongful eviction claims.  

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