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Tenant Screening Laws in Washington, D.C.

D.C. landlords are required to share a detailed history of the unit with all applicants, such as any recent housing code violations.

Unlike tenant screening laws in many other states—which limit application fees or clearly define what they can be used for—D.C. focuses on what information a prospective tenant tenant should receive about the unit before they apply. And don't forget: although the city has its own rules regulating the tenant screening process, federal laws also apply.

Landlords must share a detailed history of the unit

Once a landlord has received a rental application from a potential tenant, D.C. law requires them to disclose:1

  • The price of rent for the unit in question
  • Whether the unit is rent controlled or exempt
  • All housing code and property maintenance code violations issued in the last 12 months (and any previously issued violations that have not been resolved)
  • The amounts owed for any application fee or security deposit
  • Any pending coop or condo conversion
  • Ownership and business license information
  • A three-year history of “mold contamination” in the unit and common spaces or proof that the mold has been taken care of by a licensed professional
  • A copy of the D.C. Tenant Bill of Rights document

If it is a rent-controlled unit, then the landlord must also mention:

  • Any pending petition that might affect the rent
  • Any surcharges on the rent and when they expire

Tenants are entitled to a receipt for all application fees

A landlord must provide a receipt for all payments made by a potential tenant—including application fees and security deposits—unless the payment is made by personal check and covers the entirety of the cost. Each receipt must note the purpose and date of the payment, as well as any outstanding balance.2

Applicants are protected from discrimination by D.C. fair housing laws

All tenants in the U.S. are covered by the federal Fair Housing Act, which makes it illegal for landlords or brokers to treat people different based on race, national origin, religion, gender, disability, or family status. But D.C. has its own set of fair housing laws—some of the strongest in the country—which also prevent landlords from rejecting applicants because of their sexual orientation, political affiliation, student status, and more.

[1] D.C. Official Code §42-3502.22

[2] 14 DCMR §306

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.