District Of Columbia Tenant Screening
Last Updated: January 22, 2015
A locally elected mayor and a 13 member council have governed the District since 1973. However, the Congress maintains supreme authority over the city and may overturn local laws. DC residents elect a non-voting, at-large congressional delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, but the District has no representation in the U.S. Senate. The District receives three electoral votes in presidential elections as permitted by the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1961.
How to Screen a Tenant in the District Of Columbia
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Step 1: Know Your Rights & Responsibilities
Landlords and property managers are subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF] (FCRA) during the tenant screening process. Additionally, District Of Columbia has laws that affect the tenant screening process. You can find the current District Of Columbia Housing Codes on the Secretary Of The District Of Columbia website. If you are finding the formalities of this code daunting, you might want to check out these friendlier sites:
- Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws in the District Of Columbia
- DC Landlord And Tenant Information Outline
Recent Law Changes
In June of 2014, the DC Council unanimously passed a bill that would, for the first time ever, require landlords to address mold in rental housing. The new law will require landlords to remediate mold once tenants report it, authorize DDOE to issue regulations establishing a threshold level of mold above which professional remediation will be required, require companies performing mold assessment or remediation to be licensed by DDOE, allow the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to issue housing code violation notices and allow tenants in lawsuits to argue that such violations exist based on a professional finding of mold above the DDOE threshold, and allows tenants to seek rent abatement, reimbursement of costs, attorney’s fees, and in some cases, treble damages when a landlord fails to remediate mold above the DDOE threshold after receiving notice. DC Air Quality Amendment Act Of 2014
Step 2: Required Forms & Disclosures
Tip: before you rent for the first time, consider hiring a lawyer to review all of the documents you will use during the application and rental process to ensure that you are protected to the fullest extent of the law.
- Rental Application [PDF] (this must be completed in full by the applicant prior to screening)
- Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF]
- Consumer Report Disclosure [PDF]
If you are ACCEPTING an applicant:
- Move-In Checklist [PDF]
- Lease Agreement (written), containing or attaching the following information:
- Owner/Agent Identity – this should include name and address, and if the owner/agent is out-of-state it must include contact information for a resident of the COUNTY in which the rental is located that can act as an agent for the purposes of serving notices and process.
- Security Deposit – this must include the amount of the deposit and the conditions under which some or all of the deposit may be withheld. It must also include the name and banking institution holding the deposit.
- Non-refundable Fees – explicitly describe any non-refundable fees, and state clearly that they are non-refundable.
- Fire Protection & Safety Information: You must disclose the available fire protection and safety information specific to the unit you are renting, including smoking policy, evacuation plans, and who to notify in case of emergency.
- Rental Regulations: At the start of every new tenancy, DC landlords must give tenants a copy of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, CDCR Title 14, Housing, Chapter 3, Landlord and Tenant; and a copy of Title 14, Housing, Chapter 1, 101 (Civil Enforcement Policy) and Chapter 1, 106 (Notification of Tenants Concerning Violations). (14 D.C. Mun. Regs. 300)
- Security Deposit: In the lease, rental agreement, or receipt, DC landlords must state the terms and conditions under which the security deposit was collected to secure tenant’s obligations under the lease or rental agreement. (D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 14, 308 to 310)
If you are DECLINING an applicant:
- Adverse Action Notice [PDF]
Step 3: Order a Tenant Screening Report
What You’ll Need
- A completed rental application signed by the applicant.
- Some details about your applicant:
- Email address
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Previous address
- Bank account number (optional)
- Bank routing number (optional)
What Will Be Covered
- Package Options
- Background Report Coverage for District Of Columbia:
- Criminal, OFAC/Patriot Act & Sex Offender Records – A nationwide search is always performed. These jurisdictions specifically are available in District Of Columbia: DC Sex Offender Registry.
- Eviction Records – records are available from the following counties: District Of Columbia.
- Bankruptcies, Liens & Judgments – records are available from the following counties: District Of Columbia.
- Social Security Number validation, Death Index, credit checks, previous addresses, alias names, and the Rent Check Advisor include all information available regardless of location.
Resources for District Of Columbia Landlords
- District Of Columbia Bar Association Lawyer Search
- District Of Columbia Courts
- Law Enforcement Agencies in District Of Columbia (Wikipedia)