Lots of Questions on DC Security Deposit Regulations. DCRA Has Answers.

It’s been about three weeks since a lot of students in DC moved from their summer apartments and houses and into their school year place. So the big question we’re receiving lately is: Where is my money?

Under DC law, landlords have up to 45 days from the date the lease ended to either return the security deposit or provide an itemized list of repairs/deductions that were made from the deposit. Having trouble getting your money back? Show them the law. And we’re pasting it below. Notice that if landlords do not make a “good faith” effort and fail to meet the regulation’s timeline, you are entitled to the entire security deposit back. DCRA doesn’t handle disputes between landlords and tenants on security deposit issues, but if you are having problems you should immediately contact the Office of the Tenant Advocate and let them know. They can help.


309.1 Within forty-five (45) days after the termination of the tenancy, the owner shall do one of the following:
(a) Tender payment to the tenant, without demand, any security deposit and any similar payment paid by the tenant as a condition of tenancy in addition to the stipulated rent, and any interest due the tenant on that deposit or payment as provided in § 311; or
(b) Notify the tenant in writing, to be delivered to the tenant personally or by certified mail at the tenant’s last known address, of the owner’s intention to withhold and apply the monies toward defraying the cost of expenses properly incurred under the terms and conditions of the security deposit agreement.

309.2 The owner, within thirty (30) days after notification to the tenant pursuant to the requirement of § 309.1(b), shall tender a refund of the balance of the deposit or payment, including interest not used to defray such expenses, and at the same time give the tenant an itemized statement of the repairs and other uses to which the monies were applied and the cost of each repair or other use.

309.3 Failure by the owner to comply with § 309.1 and § 309.2 of this section shall constitute prima facie evidence that the tenant is entitled to full return, including interest as provided in § 311, of any deposit or other payment made by the tenant as security for performance of his or her obligations or as a condition of tenancy, in addition to the stipulated rent.

309.4 Failure by the owner to serve the tenant personally or by certified mail, after good faith effort to do so, shall not constitute a failure by the owner to comply with § 309.1 and

309.5 Any housing provider violating the provisions of this chapter by failing to return a security deposit rightfully owed to a tenant in accordance with the requirements of this chapter shall be liable for the amount of the deposit withheld, or in the event of bad faith, for treble that amount.

309.6 For the purposes of § 309.5, the term “bad faith” means any frivolous or unfounded refusal to return a security deposit, as required by law, that is motivated by a fraudulent, deceptive, misleading, dishonest, or unreasonably self-serving purpose and not by simple negligence, bad judgement, or an honest belief in the course of action taken.

There Are Rules Off-Campus Too

Moving Tools

Many of the schools here in the District will be welcoming students back over the next two weeks, so let us be among the many to say, welcome!  Those of you living off-campus have gotten an extra special welcome with an article in today’s Washington Post: Rules Trail Raucous Students Off-Campus.

Certainly, not all of  you living off-campus are rowdy, beer guzzling party animals, but some of you do go a overboard.  Let’s be honest with one another.  What we need for you to remember here at DCRA is that there are rules that  you have to follow when you live in off-campus housing as well.  When you live off-campus, you are a District resident, so you have to abide by the same rules as everyone else living in the city–meaning, no ridiculous noise-levels and no trash and debris all over the grounds of your place–among other rules you’ll need to remember.

Make every attempt to be respectful to those living around you and who knows, maybe one of your neighbors will invite you over for a great homecooked meal like mom used to make……okay, maybe that’s not going to happen, but you can dream can’t you?

Catholic U. Students Cautioned

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) issued a strong warning to students at the Catholic University of America recently. They cautioned students against what they are calling “outrageous” conduct at off-campus housing.  DCRA would like to echo MPD’s sentiments, especially as we move towards the close of the semester and the sure to happen end of the year parties.

For DCRA’s part, as Sergeant Wayne Steinhilber mentioned in his post at the CUA Tower, if trash and debris is covering the ground outside of one of these houses, we will get involved–including the possible issuance of fines.  Landlords don’t tend to really like the idea of police, fire marshalls and city inspectors and investigators frequenting their properties.  So, if you are a student at CUA or any of the other colleges and universities in the District, certainly enjoy college life, but be mindful that there are rules that you have to follow.

Just the same as you want your landlords to respect your requests for service or assistance, your landlords expect for you to be respectful of their properties.  Your neighbors want to know that their homes will be safe with you around.  So, party like it’s 1999 2009, but be careful and be wise.  Just this past weekend, the annual Run for Rigby was held to commemorate the life of former Georgetown University student Daniel Rigby.  He was killed in a house fire back in 2004 at no fault of his own.  How do you think your family would feel about getting a call that something had happened to you, only there’s a great chance you were at fault?  Not good…….

thisshouldbeillegal.com featured on DCist

thisshouldbeillegal.com‘s soft launch was featured on the popular blog DCist.com on Tuesday and the site has received over 600 hits in the past 24 hours. We appreciate everyone’s comments and willingness to help us make the city’s rental properties safer. We will officially kick-off this blog and other online communications next week.

One important issue raised is whether alerting the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs could lead to you being kicked out of your apartment. Our goal is to make sure your off-campus housing is safe. Only in the most extreme cases – less than one percent over the past three years – have inspections lead to the complete closure of any building. Once landlords are clear on the penalties they face, most voluntarily comply with the law by obtaining a basic business license and putting their property through a proper inspection. Here is a list of housing violations we were able to convince landlords to fix or that we fixed ourselves. Contacting us does make a difference.

Again, to see if your landlord is licensed, click here.

Note: Choose the type of rental property from the drop down menu, enter your address and search. If your landlord doesn’t have a license, send us a comment on this entry, tweet us, or email us.