The Rental Accommodations Office is but one of the District's facilities especially suited for particular landlord-tenant disputes. Figuring out where to take a problem can be perplexing. The following list is meant to help direct inquiries to the proper place.
Hotline. If the problem is determining whether a problem may actually exist, the D.C. Office of Consumer Protection has a hotline (347-4100) with more than 300 tapes, nine of which cover provisions of the Rental Housing Act of 1980. They are:
* Evictions for nonpayment of rent, tape number 751.
* Notices to vacate, number 752.
* Security/damage deposits/tenants, number 753.
* Rent ceilings and adjustments, number 754.
* Tenant petitions, number 755.
* Landlord responsibilities, number 756.
* Reductions of services or facilities, number 757.
* Tenant responsibilities, number 758.
* Conciliation of landlord-tenant disputes, number 759.
Department of Licenses, Investigations and Inspections. The department issues certificates of occupancy and housing business licenses. Phone number: 727-3666.
Department of Housing and Community Development. Its housing inspections branch, within the Neighborhood Improvement Administration, enforces housing code regulations and certain lease provisions. It is the place to call in case of lack of heat or hot water or accumulation of trash.
The conversions and sales office regulates conversions and sales of cooperatives or condominiums and can give limited assistance to tenants about their rights in such cases. Phone number: 535-1000.
Landlord-tenant branch of D.C. Superior Court. The branch handles suits over nonpayment of rent and for landlord possession of premises (eviction) for nonpayment of rent. Phone number: 727-2865.
Rental Accommodations Office. Here landlords must register their property and file for any rent increases, exemption from rent control and evictions because of conversion or personal use by the landlord. Renters' challenges to rent increases are filed in this office. Voluntary rent-adjustment agreements reached between a landlord and 70 percent of his tenants are also filed here.
Disputes may be settled through mediation or an examiner's hearing. Appeals go to the Rental Housing Commission and the District Court of Appeals. A free 20-page Guide to Rental Housing in the District of Columbia is available in English and Spanish. Also available free is a more detailed Guide to Rent Control in the District of Columbia. Phone number: 724-5600.
Mayor's Command Center. If none of the above agencies seems right to handle a problem, this service of the mayor's office is the place of "last resort," according to Sam Jordan, acting deputy director of the center. It will direct rental housing questions to the proper government agency. Phone number: 727-6161.
In addition, the 1982 edition of the Tenants Survival Guide will be coming out in October, published by the Harrison Institute for Public Law and Neighborhood Advisory Commission 3B. The first 40,000 copies of the 12-page tabloid will be free. For information on where to get it, call 624-8235.