Settling With Your DC Tenant
Friday, April 26, 2019 at 1:31AM
Emilie Fairbanks

I know. You don’t want to settle. You just want to go to court and get them out of your property. I get it. I want that too. But this is real life. DC landlord tenant court can take a LONG time. Most cases settle. It’s actually in the landlord’s interest to resolve the case most of the time. 

Why? Time. As I said, court takes time. You can often be in court for months before you get an eviction. But there are other reasons. Working out an agreement for the tenant to pay you the back rent gets you the money you’re owed and stops the court proceedings. Let’s say the tenant owes you $3000, three months rent at $1000 per month. If you agree to let her pay you over three months you get $2000 per month, the monthly rent and a back payment of $1000 towards the arrearage. I know you are concerned that the tenant won’t pay. About half my job is going into court to tell the judge the tenant violated an agreement and I need a judgment. BUT THEN WHY MAKE THE AGREEMENT? To save you time and potentially get you some of the back rent. Let’s say the tenant makes the first two payments of $1000, the first month of rent after the agreement and the first back payment, but then misses payment number three. Then I file a motion for judgment. At that time the entire amount becomes due. You get a writ. You can still evict the tenant if they don’t pay or they can pay everything before the eviction.

Can this take time too? Yes. It can. Right now things are moving quickly. Directly after the shutdown they were not. But you’ve avoided a costly trial. You have some money in your pocket. And you can go forward. 

Article originally appeared on Emilie Fairbanks, Landlord/Tenant Attorney (
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