Guide to Evictions


Eviction is the process a landlord goes through in order to remove a tenant from their property.

In Washington D.C., there are ten reasons a landlord can legally evict a tenant.1

  • Nonpayment of rent 
  • Violation of an obligation of tenancy, of which the tenant failed to correct after notice 
  • Tenant performed an illegal act within the rental unit 
  • The landlord seeks in good faith to occupy the rental unit for personal use and occupancy 
  • The landlord sells the rental unit to a party who seeks in good faith to occupy the rental unit for personal use and occupancy
  • The landlord seeks to renovate the rental unit in a manner in which tenant cannot safely occupy 
  • The landlord seeks to demolish the rental unit; Landlord seeks to substantially rehabilitate the rental unit
  • The landlord seeks to discontinue the rental unit for housing and occupancy 
  • The landlord seeks to convert the rental unit to a condominium or cooperative after securing governmental approval.

Know Your Rights

  • Contrary to popular belief, you (a tenant) may not be evicted just because the initial lease term expires, or because the rental property has been foreclosed upon. Also, your landlord cannot evict you for personal reasons in D.C.; every eviction has to have a specific legal reason that relates to one of the ten guidelines above.2
  • The landlord must go through the judicial process in order to serve an eviction. You (the tenant) must be supplied with a written Notice to Vacate, an opportunity to cure the lease violation, and an opportunity to challenge the landlord’s claims in court (reach out to Office of Tenant Advocate for help on this).2  
  •  Unless a tenant has not paid rent and has previously waived the right to notice after nonpayment, landlords must give tenants a legally valid notice. The eviction date is the date by which you can leave voluntarily or correct the lease violation, if applicable.3 After that date, the landlord may file a suit of possession against you and seek a writ of eviction.3
  • This notice to vacate also has strict requirements.2
    • If your landlord doesn’t send you a proper notice, the case could be dismissed in Court. 
    • Your landlord has to give you specific information about how you violated the lease or the housing code.
    • Your landlord also has to tell you exactly how to fix the violation.
    • Your landlord needs to give you at least 30 days to fix the violation.
    • Lastly, this notice needs to be written in both English and Spanish.
  • Additionally, self-help evictions (where the landlord attempts to evict a tenant without the involvement of the U.S. Marshals Service) are illegal in D.C.1 
  • Lastly, If you are being evicted due to non-payment of rent, you have the right to avoid eviction by paying the total amount owed, as determined by the court, up until the time the eviction is carried out.1

What to do if your landlord is not following the law:

Relocation Assistance

  • In the event of a building’s demolition, substantial rehabilitation, capital improvements, discontinued use, or conversion, relocation assistance is available for a tenant.3 Resources are available through the OTA and DHCD.3 Additionally, the landlord must provide monetary assistance for the move.3 For demolition, substantial rehabilitation, or discontinued use, the landlord must give $150 per pantry, kitchen, storage area, or utility room over 60 sq. ft.3 They must also give $300 per room over 60 sq. ft. Rates for monetary relocation assistance may change annually.3 If relocation is due to conversion, the tenant should receive a minimum of $125 and housing assistance for up to three years.3

1. “Guide to Eviction.” Office of Tenant Advocate. Accessed September 28, 2020. 
2. D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center. “Landlords: Evictions and Defenses.” , March 20, 2017.
3. Washington, D.C. Tenant Survival Guide. (2006)