Landlords’ Responsibilities in Washington, D.C. (The Must Knows)

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Across the country, landlord-tenant disputes have reached a crescendo after the end of the pandemic. In LA, for example, the LAPD had to respond to 279 such issues in only one month. While this is not Washington DC, you should be asking how you can ensure that you avoid such things with your properties.

By entering into a residential real estate agreement, you sign up for several responsibilities. On top of that, your tenant will expect you to uphold them. Thus, make sure that you understand them all.

Below, we list some of the more common landlord’s responsibilities that you should be aware of. In going through them, you should understand what you need to do to keep your tenants happy based on their legal expectations. So, do not hesitate to learn what they are today.

Informing the Tenant of Visits

When becoming a landlord, the thing that some people forget is that they forgo access to the home that they rent out. They can no longer enter and leave whenever they wish and must provide a reasonable warning beforehand.

Usually, this warning is 24 hours but may be different depending on local bylaws or other rules. Though, access is usually always allowed in an emergency or in the case of danger to the property or life.

You may have any number of reasons to want to access a property. This may include:

  • A spot inspection of the property
  • To perform regular maintenance
  • Welfare concerns
  • Suspicious activity

Despite the plethora of possible reasons for visiting, you still need to do so at a reasonable hour. During working hours of the day, or at times you expect a tenant to be in, are all reasonable.

On top of this, a tenant can follow you during an inspection and has rights if they believe that you have acted unreasonably during the visit.

As with all these responsibilities, we recommend that you read up on the Washington DC laws. They will explain the intricacies more than this article.

Warn the Tenant Before Increasing Rent

Washington eviction laws are very clear. You must give any tenant at least a 30-day warning of any increase in their rent. If the tenant cannot pay, you must then follow the standard eviction practices.

The one thing you are not allowed to do is increase rent without giving a reasonable warning.

There are also laws related to how much you can increase the rent of a location. You can generally increase it by the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) plus two percent. Although this cannot be more than ten percent in total, to prevent runaway increases in housing costs.

Resolve Regular Property Maintenance

Regular property maintenance may be a request that comes from you or a tenant. There should be plenty of time on both sides to resolve this.

If a tenant warns you of regular maintenance that needs to occur, you should pay attention to it. You should then resolve the issue in a reasonable period. 

The best way to do this is to communicate an expected timetable at all times. This will give your tenant sensible expectations about how long it will take you to do something. You can then allow them to make preparations if things take longer than they expect.

You should also be aware of when you should check all items in the home to abide by local health and safety laws. For example, if fire alarms need batteries or extinguishers need replacing, or a boiler needs servicing.

Safe and Habitable Living Conditions

A home needs to remain safe and habitable. This could mean any number of things, but examples that you should pay attention to include:

  • The smell of gas
  • Water pouring through a room
  • The home is too hot or too cold
  • The collapse of a section of the roof
  • Pest infestation

Any number of these could be significant enough to mean that the tenants cannot live in the home safely. If this occurs and you do not offer the tenants a reasonable resolution, you may find yourself in legal trouble.

A common reasonable resolution is to put the renters up in a hotel until such a time that you can resolve the issue. Of course, you will want to do this as soon as possible to prevent paying too much for any such hotel.

Be Contactable

You, or any property manager that you use, should be available at all times. This allows any issues that tenants have to resolve fast and without issue. 

It is common to put a contact number on any contract that you and the tenant sign. This allows you to have a verifiable method of having passed on such information.

Follow the Law

You must, of course, follow and laws for property in Washington. Make sure that you either know the law yourself, you have a lawyer available to you, or that you use a property manager. Such people can help you with calling out any issues that you might not have seen before.

Handle and Return Security Deposits Swiftly

The lease contract details you have for any specific tenant should specify how you hold onto any security deposit. It should also communicate how fast you intend to pay back the deposit.

Laws in Washington DC specify that you must return this deposit, along with a list of deductions, up to 45 days after the end of a tenancy. Should you not do this, you may find yourself in trouble.

Experts on Residential Real Estate Responsibilities

Now that you understand residential real estate responsibilities, things should be much easier on you. If this still feels like too much, though, you might want someone else to handle these things so that you can get on with the rest of your life. That is where Nomadic Real Estate can help you with your Washington DC properties.

Talk to us about your needs and the state of your properties. Our experts should be able to tell you what we can provide and how we can work together moving forward. So, give us a call, what are you waiting for?

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