Guide to Living Conditions

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  • Tenant Responsibilities:
    • Although landlords are responsible for a habitable apartment free of dirt, dust, cobwebs, garbage, and litter the moment of moving-in, tenants are responsible for apartment cleanliness afterward.1 Tenants are also required to maintain the following conditions:2
      1. Disposing all organic or flammable waste, in a clean, safe, and sanitary manner.
      2. Keeping all plumbing fixtures as clean and sanitary as possible.
      3. Appropriately using all electrical, gas, plumbing, and heating appliances.
      4. DO NOT willfully or wantonly destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the apartment or building or their facilities and equipment.
  • Landlord Responsibilities:
    • Landlords may only rent out habitations in clean, safe, and sanitary condition, in good repair, and free from pests.3 Landlords are required to ensure the following conditions:3
      1. A private and ventilated bathroom with a bath or shower, toilet, sink with hot and cold running water, waterproof floor, and wall base.
      2. Two separate electrical outlets per habitable room, wires with good insulation, and correct fuses.
      3. Lighted fire exit signs, fire extinguishers, and a fire alarm system.
      4. Clean, sound, waterproof, and level floors without cracks, holes, and splinters. 
      5. Heating equipment that maintains the temperature at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night, if the tenant cannot control heat settings.
      6. Water temperatures of at least 120 degrees in both the bathroom and kitchen sinks.
      7. Safe maintenance of landlord provided facilities for cooking, storage, or refrigeration of food.
      8. No peeling, flaking, or lead paint.
      9. No leaky plumbing.
      10. Lockable apartments from both inside and outside.
      11. At least 70 square feet of room for a single tenant sleeping arrangements and at least 50 square feet for each person in a two-or-more apartment.
      12. Evenly spaced, firm, secure, and well-lit stairways with railings.
      13. Walls and ceilings without holes, wide cracks, or peeling paint, plaster, or wallpaper.
      14. Screened windows from March 15 to November 15. Windows must open and close easily and have no cracks, holes, and air or water leaks.
      15. Waterproof plastic or metal covered trash cans.
      16. Roofs and gutters that do not leak.
      17. Clean and unobstructed walkways and lawns with cut grass.
  • What to do when your landlord is not following the requirements above:
  • Get GSTA involved by confronting your landlord with our assistance through our Advocacy Program. For further questions, reach out to us through our “Contact Us” page as well as the Office of Tenant Advocate in DC where you can receive free legal advice: 

Telephone Intakes: M-F, 8:45 am-4:45 pm, office is closed to walk-ins until further notice due to COVID-19.

Address: 2000 14th Street, NW, Suite 300 North, Washington, DC 20009 

Phone: (202) 719-6560

Ask the Chief Tenant Advocate

  1. “DC Housing Code Standards,” Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (2020). <https://dcra.dc.gov/service/dc-housing-code-standards>
  2. District of Columbia Municipal Regulations and District of Columbia Register §14-800.2 (2020). <https://www.dcregs.dc.gov/Common/DCMR/RuleList.aspx?ChapterNum=14-8&ChapterId=2256>

District of Columbia Municipal Regulations and District of Columbia Register §14-400.3 (2020). <https://www.dcregs.dc.gov/Common/DCMR/RuleList.aspx?ChapterNum=14-4&ChapterId=2252>