Guide to Rent Payment

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Rent Payment may seem straightforward, but it can become a source of contention if not properly settled. There are a few tips and tricks that you can use to avoid any potential conflicts.

Primarily, rent payment should be discussed and agreed upon with your landlord and all roommates before lease signing.

In addition, the following protocols and laws should be accounted for regarding rent payment.

  • Payment and Record of Payment: 
    • A landlord may collect in whatever form they like.1 However, the lease should state the preference for payment.1 Additionally, the landlord must provide the tenant with receipt of payment, detailing the amount paid and remaining balance, date of payment, and purpose.1 Some landlords may be exempt from rent control.1 As the RACD to show you the file for your building’s address to see if your landlord has filed for an exemption. 
  • Automatic Rent Increase:
    • The Rent Control Amendment Act of 2006 abolished the use of rent ceilings. Under this act, landlords must provide written notice of increase within 30 days, and the increase cannot be more than 10%.2 An automatic increase can only occur annually, when three is an increase in the Consumer Price Index.2 The renet increase may exceed the new Consumer Price Index by no more than 2%.2 Any increase other than this adjustment must be justified by the landlord to a Rent Administrator.2
  • Vacant Rent Increase:
    • The Rental Housing Act of 1985 states that once a tenant has left a unit, the landlord may raise the price before renting to a new tenant.3 The increase must either be by 10% or to the price of an equivalent unity in the building.5 If the landlord chooses to raise the rent to that of a comparable unit, it must not exceed a 30% increase.5 If the landlord issues a vacancy rent increase, they can’t increase rent again for 12 months.5 
  • Capital Rent Increase:
    • The Rental Housing Act of 1985 states that landlords may petition for an increase in rent to cover repair beyond normal measures (ex: replacing roof, elevators, individual heating, windows).3 Even if the improvements are done to an individual unit, the landlord may increase the rent on the entire building.4 The increase may not be more than 15% for repairs in individual units and 21% for repairs done to the entire building, and this increase can only occur after the repairs have been made.4 The increase can only be in effect for as long as it takes to pay off the repairs (max 96 months for building and 64 months for individuals).4
  • Voluntary Increase:
    • The Rental Housing Act of 1985 states that a landlord can increase rent if 70% or more of the unit’s occupants sign an agreement with the higher rent.4 The tenants have 14 days to sign.4 Even tenants who don’t sign the agreement can have their rent raised to the amount listed, if at least 70% of tenants do sign.4 Leases may include this agreement, and they can be difficult to get out of once signed.4
  • Late Fees:
    • DC Law 21-172 states that late fees cannot be more than 5% of monthly rent.6 In order to collect a late fee, the landlord must have stated the maximum amount of late fees that can be charged on the lease.6 Late fees cannot be charged until 5 days after the due date.6 A landlord should charge fees by sending an invoice, which tenants then have 30 days to pay.6 If it’s not paid in 30 days, the landlord can take the fees out of the security deposit. Interest cannot be charged on a late fee.6
  1.  Reggie Lys, Washington DC Landlord-Tenant Law (2020)  <https://www.avail.co/education/laws/washington-d-c-landlord-tenant-law>
  2. Rent Control Reform Amendment Act, U.S.C. § 42-3502.05(g) (2006). <https://ota.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/ota/publication/attachments/Rent_Control_Reform_Amendment_Act_of_2006.pdf> (2020)
  3. Rental Housing Act, U.S.C. § 42-3501.01 (1985). <https://code.dccouncil.us/dc/council/laws/docs/6-10.pdf> (2020)
  4.  Washington, D.C. Tenant Survival Guide. (2006) <https://www.thelpa.com/Washington-DC-TenantGuide.pdf
  5. Tenant protections regarding late fees. (2017) <https://ota.dc.gov/release/tenant-protections-regarding-late-fees
  6. D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center. “Frequently Asked Questions: Evicting Guests, Roommates, Family Members, and Other Unwanted Occupants from Your Home.” LawHelp.org/DC, December 18, 2019. https://www.lawhelp.org/dc/resource/frequently-asked-questions-evicting-guests-roommates-family-members-and-other-unwanted-occupants-from-your-home.&nbsp;