Washington DC Rent Payment Plans - New COVID-19 Relief Legislation

The Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 was just passed by the DC Council and signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser. This new emergency legislation is intended to provide relief to tenants in Washington DC who are facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This emergency legislation went through several rounds of revisions by DC Council, and the latest and final version of the bill impacts every District of Columbia homeowner who currently receives or is attempting to receive rental income.  Under this new bill, landlords in DC will be obligated to offer rent payment plans to eligible tenants in DC. Tenants who wish to participate in a rent payment plan must submit an application and prove that they have faced financial hardship as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19.

Learn more below about the intent of this new bill, the requirements for landlords in DC, and the plan Nomadic has in place to manage the process from start to finish.

We have created this guide to help DC landlords and tenants understand their rights and obligations under this new legislation.

Table of Contents

Helpful Resources

  • Read the Bill Here: Click to Download Full Text of Bill
    • For Tenant Payment Plan information: please view Pages 44-45 of the Bill in Section 402.
    • For Mortgage Relief Informationplease view Pages 41-44 of the Bill in Section 401.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2020?

The Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 was passed by the DC Council and signed by Mayor Muriel Bower at the conclusion of May 2020 to provide, on an emergency basis, additional protections to the Districts residents and businesses during the current public health emergency.   A Public Health Emergency was announced in the District of Columbia on March 11th 2020 as a result of COVID-19. 

What are my obligations as a DC homeowner under this Act?

The Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 mandates that every District of Columbia residential landlord or any other person receiving or entitled to receive the rents or benefits for the use of occupancy of any residential rental unit shall notify and offer a rent-payment-plan program for eligible tenants.

For how long must I offer a rent payment plan to my tenants?

The “program period” to offer a rent-payment-plan is defined as the period of time for which the Mayor has declared a public health emergency (March 11th  2020) and for one year thereafter.  This does not have anything to do with the terms of the rent payment plan, it simply defines how long it must be offered to eligible tenants.

How does the bill define an eligible tenant?

An eligible tenant is one that demonstrates to the housing provider evidence of a financial hardship resulting directly or indirectly from the public health emergency; that is in addition to any delinquency or future inability to make rental payments in existence prior to the start of the Public Health Emergency, and would further cause the tenant to be unable to qualify to rent the unit or space based on utilization of the same qualification criteria that were applied to the tenant at the time he or she was approved to rent the unit or space.

If eligible, how does a tenant apply for a rent payment plan?

A housing provider, or their agent, must provide a process by which an eligible tenant may apply for a payment plan, which may include requiring the tenant to submit supporting documentation and be accessible online or via the phone.  

Nomadic Real Estate has created an online application approved by our legal counsel that can be viewed here.

What happens when a rent payment plan application is received?

When an application and its supporting documentation is received, Nomadic Real Estate will present the application to the housing provider (the landlord/homeowner) who is responsible for approving or denying the application based on if they deem the tenant qualifies as “eligible” under the Act.

Will my management fee change if I enter into a rent payment plan with my tenant?

The management fee will remain the same percentage of the sum of total rent collected for a given month as agreed upon in the Property Management Agreement.  As a result, if the sum of rent collected is reduced, the management fee will be reduced accordingly.

If I approve the application, what are the repayment terms?

The payment plan does not decrease the sum of rent due per the terms of the Residential Lease Agreement but it does allow the tenant to make equal monthly installment payments over 12 months from the effective date of their rent payment plan to lower their monthly rent payment. 

The ultimate intent of the ACT is to encourage dialogue and reach the best possible solution within the confines of the legislation.  As long as both parties agree to the terms in writing then the Act allows for a good deal of flexibility and every case may be different and can include multiple payments per month, accepting credit card payments, agreeing to apply the security deposit to a month’s rent, a deferment period, etc.

What if my tenant’s lease expires before the 12-month period?

The Act does allow you and the tenant to enter into an agreement shorter then 12 months. However, if the tenant does not agree, their lease in DC automatically renews on a month to month basis and as a result they would be required to continue making the monthly installment payments as agreed in addition to the new rent that comes due upon lease renewal.

If the tenant decides to vacate with a balance due, the Security Deposit can be applied to this balance and if they do not continue to meet the terms of the rent payment plan they would be found in default and you have the right to file a suit with DC Landlord Tenant court for the remaining balance due.

Can I charge late fees or interest?

No, if you enter into a rent-payment plan you are not able to charge any late fees, penalties or interest. It should be noted that during a public health emergency you are not able to charge these fees or penalties regardless.

Can I report delinquency to a credit bureau?

No, if you enter into a rent-payment plan you are unable to report delinquent rent subject to the rent payment plan to a credit bureau unless the tenant defaults on the agreement.

Furthermore, the ACT mandates that the tenant does not lose any rights under the lease due to a default on the monetary amounts due during the lease period, provided that, they do not default on the terms of the rent payment plan.

If things improve, can the tenant accelerate payments?

Yes, the tenant has the ability to pay a sum larger than that agreed to under the rent payment plan, however the housing provider is NOT allowed to ask for one lump sum payment.

What if I reject my tenant’s application?

Under the Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 if you deem the tenant is not eligible you have every right to reject the application and to not offer a rent payment plan.  The Agent is required to file the application for a period up to 3 years and the tenant has the right to file a written complaint with DC’s Rent Administrator. The Rent Administrator shall forward the complaint to the Office of Administrative Hearings for adjudication.

What happens if a tenant defaults on the rent-payment plan?

In the event the tenant defaults on the rent payment plan you are allowed to file a suit with the DC courts 60 days after the public health emergency is lifted.  It is currently scheduled to be lifted on July 24th  2020, but of course the Mayor can extend this.

Does the Act provide any mortgage forbearance programs?

Yes.  The Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 mandates that during a public health emergency and for 60 days thereafter, a mortgage lender that makes or holds a residential mortgage loan in the District of Columbia shall develop a deferment program for borrowers that at a minimum:

  1. Grants at least a 90-day deferment of the monthly payment of principal and interest.
  2. Waives any late fee, processing fee, or any other fee accrued during the public health emergency.
  3. Does not report delinquency to credit reporting agencies.

*A homeowner is not eligible if foreclosure proceedings began prior to March 11th  2020 or if the loan is a Federally backed mortgage loan as defined in the CARES Act.

Am I eligible for mortgage forbearance?

The mortgage lender shall establish application criteria and procedures for borrowers so we advise you call your lender right away.

An eligible homeowner is one that can:

  1. Demonstrate evidence of a financial hardship resulting directly or indirectly with the public health emergency, including an existing delinquency or future inability to make payments

What happens if my lender approves my forbearance application?

If approved, you will enter into a written agreement with the Lender that defines how you will pay the deferred payments within:

  1. A reasonable time agreed to.
  2. If no reasonable time can be agreed to, 3 years from the end of the deferment period, or the end of the original term of the mortgage loan, whichever is earlier.

Click here for a copy of The Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2020.

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