On Tuesday, April 7th, the D.C. Council passed the COVID-19 Response Supplemental Emergency Amendment Act of 2020. The bill is large and impacts many areas of law in the District of Columbia. For purposes of this update, we will focus only on those areas that directly impact property managers and landlords. The impact is significant.
Section 203 of the bill is entitled “Tenant Protections.” Here is what that section states:
- All deadlines during a public health emergency related to the exercising of any rights under the Rental Housing Act by tenants or tenant organizations are tolled and extended to 30 days after the end of the public health emergency (the prior amendments to the Act related to these deadlines are repealed in favor of these new ones);
- Any notice of intent to vacate that a tenant provided before the declaration of a public health emergency is tolled until the end of the public health emergency so that the tenant will have the same number of days to vacate following the end of the public health emergency that he/she had at the time the public health emergency was declared (e.g., if a tenant gave the notice to vacate for March 31st, the tenant would be given an additional 20 days following the end of the emergency);
- Any rent increase—including for both rent-controlled and market-rate units—is prohibited. The language of the bill is comprehensive, and its clear intent is to completely prohibit rent increases during the COVID-19 emergency. More specifically, the bills state that the following are null and void: any rent increase that has an effective date during a public health emergency or 30 days after; or was issued during a public health emergency; or that has been issued prior to the public health emergency but has an effective date after a public health emergency.
This bill, in short, tolls deadlines for tenants to exercise all rights under the Rental Housing Act, cancel all notices to vacate that tenants have given for the time period that the public health emergency is in effect, and prohibits all rent increases during the time the public health emergency is in effect and for 30 days thereafter.
For reference, Mayor Bowser declared a public health emergency on March 11th and stated that it would last through April 24th. While the public health emergency has not been extended, we anticipate that it will be extended. We will certainly keep you updated on that.
Finally, there are additional provisions in this bill related to mortgage forbearance for loan servicers who are under the jurisdiction of the DC Commissioner of the Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking. The terms of the forbearance are perhaps more beneficial that those under the CARES Act (including a 90-day deferment and a period of up to five years to repay the deferred amount), so please check with your owners and asset managers to see if they might qualify.
If you have questions regarding the CARES Act, or any other property management question, please contact me, email@example.com or 240.507.1771.
ABOUT BILLY CANNON
Billy Cannon is a Department Chair and a member of Offit Kurman’s Landlord Representation Practice Group. He represents property owners and property management companies in litigation, mediations, and administrative agency hearings. Mr. Cannon also works with his clients on leasing matters and Fair Housing Act compliance. He has been certified in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Compliance (LIHTC) and represents many LIHTC properties and other affordable housing providers. Additionally, Mr. Cannon represents sellers and purchasers in transactions, with a particular emphasis on the District of Columbia Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA).
Mr. Cannon hosts a one-minute weekly video series, The D.C. Property Management Minute, which concentrates on the unique set of laws impacting property managers in the District of Columbia.
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