We recently notified you that the DC Council passed new statutory eviction procedures that would have required landlords to package and store evicted tenants’ belongings. Not even two weeks later, the DC Council passed a new bill that changes the procedures once again. You can download the new bill here: Eviction Procedure Reform Emergency Amendment Act. Gone are the requirements for landlords to move tenants’ personal property to a storage unit. Gone is the cumbersome mechanism of having tenants “opt in” to certain rights. The biggest impacts of the new bill are as follows:
1) Landlords have a new burden to provide posted, electronic, and mailed notices to tenants stating the date and time of a pending eviction, at least 14-days prior to the eviction.
2) At the time of the eviction, landlords must post, and mail to any emergency contact, a second notice, with additional information, including the contact information for the landlord or landlord’s agent.
3) Tenants have 7 days after the eviction, not including Sundays or federal holidays, to retrieve their personal property.
4) Landlords must provide tenants with at least 8 continuous hours of access to the property.
5) Landlords cannot require tenants to pay the rental arrears to access their personal property.
6) Any personal property remaining in the rental unit after 7 days is deemed abandoned.
7) Landlords have the right to sell tenants’ belongings after the 7-day timeframe elapses, but the amounts received must be applied to rent owed. Any additional profit must be refunded to tenants, as would be a security deposit.
8) Importantly, so long as landlords take “reasonable care” to protect the tenants’ items, “The housing provider and anyone acting on behalf of the housing provider shall be immune from civil liability for loss or damage to the evicted tenant’s abandoned property or claims related to its lawful disposal.
These new rules only apply to evictions covered by the Rental Housing Act. Thus, for commercial evictions, or evictions of squatters, any items that remain in the property at the time of the eviction are immediately deemed abandoned. Just as in residential cases, any money received from selling those belongings must be applied to rent owed, and any additional profit must be refunded to defendants. Commercial landlords may wish to notify UCC lien-holders prior to any sale.
The new rules still need to be approved by the Mayor before they go into effect, but once they become effective landlords will need to create compliant notices and adopt policies to demonstrate compliance. Please contact our office with any questions.