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Wednesday
Dec042013

Five steps DC landlords must take to have a tenant evicted after a judgment for nonpayment of rent

After the judgment for possession for nonpayment of rent is granted, many landlords feel a sense of relief. They have made it through the DC Landlord & Tenant Court process! Not so fast. In order to get the tenant out, the landlord must take several additional steps.

1) File a Notice to Tenant of Payment Required to Avoid Eviction, also called a Form 6, a redemption form, or a translux form. You only have five days after you get your judgment to file this form, so don't leave the courthouse without getting it done. When you pick up a copy of the form from the landlord & tenant clerk's office, ask how much the judge in L&T this week is permitting for late fees. Most judges limit late fees to ten dollars per month, a few don't allow any late fees. You need to know to avoid having to refile the form.

2) File a Servicemember's Affidavit, also called a Solder's and Sailor's Affidavit. Ask the clerk for a copy of the form when you hand in your Form 6 or when you file your case and get it done in advance and bring it to the first court date to file if you get a default. You must be able to say the tenant is not a member of the active duty military. If you have the tenant's Social Security Number, you can get a report from the Department of Defense database: https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/scra/. If not, you will have to look at the other ways you can prove the tenant isn't in military.

3) File your writ. The writ costs $213 currently to file. This charge can be added to the amount the tenant must pay to avoid being evicted. Count on spending some time in the Landlord & Tenant Clerk's Office filing the writ, they have to process it before you can go. Once you file the writ it will be forwarded to the Marshal's Office and they will contact you by phone at the number you list on the writ the day before the eviction. The Marshals website has great information about their eviction procedures here: http://www.usmarshals.gov/district/dc-sc/general/evictions.htm.

4) Hire an eviction crew. Once the writ is live you will be waiting for on the Marshal's Office to call you. You will need an eviction crew for the day of the eviction. When you are called the day before the eviction they will ask if you're ready, meaning you have a crew and you can be present. You want to be ready. The Marshals will come at or near the assigned time on the day of, assuming the weather hasn't drastically changed and evictions haven't had to be cancelled. They provide security only. Your crew removes all items of value, meaning everything other than trash and food. Because the eviction is only considered complete in DC when the last item is removed, you are not responsible for the tenants items after the eviction. They are often stolen, picked up with trash, etc. If the tenant is present they can obviously take any items they want but they can't interfere. Once the Marshals leave you can change locks and the eviction is over.

5) Wait. As I said, you must wait for the Marshals to call you. If the weather is cold or rainy that wait can be a long time. If your writ expires you will need to file an alias writ, giving the marshals another 75 days to complete the eviction.

These steps are not easy and just like every other part of the process in DC, a single mistake can get you sent back to square one, so be careful to follow all the rules and get help if you need it.

One more thing. Judgments for nonpayment are redeemable in DC, meaning the tenant can always pay and stay. If at any point in this process, including during the eviction, the tenant comes to you with ALL the money owed, including rent, any late fees permitted by the court, any court costs you listed on the Form 6, and the writ fee, if you have filed the writ, they get to stay. You cannot choose to refuse the money and evict the tenant unless you have a nonredeemable judgment. If you aren't sure, find out before you try to proceed.

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