It has been said that under the District's rent control law, tenants are provided lifetime estates in rental property.
While this is not exactly correct, it certainly is ture that there are very limited grounds for evicting tenants under the new rent control law, which generally incorporated existing regulations dealing with evictions. Here is a brief summary of the law of eviction.
Whether the landlord is or is not covered under other sections of rent control, no landlord can evict a tenant, for other than non-payment of rent, unless one of the following conditions occur:
1. The tenant is in violation of an obligation of the lease, and fails to correct the violation within 30 days after receiving appropriate notice from the landlord.
2. A court has determined that the tenant has performed an illegal act involving the unit.
3. The landlord wants to live in the unit. Here, 90-day advance notice must be given both the tenant and the city's rent administrator.
4. The landlord has, in good faith, contracted to sell the rental unit to someone who wishes to use it himself. Under this arrangement, the tenant must be given an opportunity to purchase the unit as well as 90-day advance notice to vacate. This section does not apply where the landlord wants to convert to condominium or cooperative ownership.
5. The landlord may vacate tenants if he wants to make substantial renovations that can't be made while the rental unit is occupied. There are a number of tenant safeguards that apply to this requirement, including the fact that a landlord must submit the renovation plans to the rent administrator. Again, 90-day advance notice to vacate is required for this type of eviction.
6. The landlord may also evict tenants if the housing accommodation is to be completely discontinued for rental purposes for at least one year. Again, tenants must be given 90-day advance notice to vacate. Copies of all notices must be furnished to the rent-administrator.
Additionally, under the new law, where the landlord wants to sell a single-family house, the tenants must be given the first opportunity to purchase. This is known as a "right of first refusal." The tenant of a single-family house also has the right of first refusal during the 15 days after the landlord has received a valid offer to purchase.
And, the law requires that if the landlord doesn't sell the property within a six-month period, the right of first refusal starts all over again.
Under the old rent control law, there was considerable conclusion as to the rights of tenants in housing accommodations other than single-family houses. The new law clarifies the fact that in any housing accommodation of four units or fewer, the current tenants (individually or as a group) must be given the right to purchase the housing accommodation at the same price that any other potential purchaser is offering.
If the building has more than four units, the tenants have the same right of first refusal, but only if there is a tenant organization with the legal capacity to purchase and own real estate, and if that organization has previously expressed an interest in purchasing the building.
Finally, the law makes it very clear that no tenant may be evicted in retaliation for exercising any rights given under the D.C. Rent Control law, including organizing a tenants' union, legally withholding rent, or bringing legal action against the landlord.