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New Tenant Court Action to Enforce the District's Housing Code

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Tenant Court Action to Enforce the District's Housing Code

The creation of the “Housing Conditions Calendar” is a very exciting development and helps level the playing field between tenants and landlords.

In response to a long-standing wish of the tenant community, the DC Superior Court has established a new expedited process -- the “Housing Conditions Calendar” in the Court’s Civil Division -- for tenants to seek redress of housing code violations that the landlord has failed to abate.  The creation of the “Housing Conditions Calendar” is a very exciting development and helps level the playing field between tenants and landlords. Landlords have long had an expedited process at the Court’s Landlord and Tenant Branch to evict tenants who fail to pay the rent, or who otherwise breach their lease agreements.  For a tenant living in substandard housing conditions, however, the only legal recourse up until now has been to (1) withhold rent and raise housing code violations as a defense to the landlord’s eviction action for nonpayment of rent, or (2) to file an action in the Civil Division, often an expensive and lengthy process and one that is difficult to navigate without an attorney -- which too few tenants have. 

The Court's new “Housing Conditions Calendar” ensures more equitable access to justice; creates a promising tool for more effective enforcement of the District’s housing code; and sends a message to the rental housing community that the tenant’s right to clean, safe, and sanitary living conditions is as important as the landlord’s right to a rent check. 

The OTA was pleased to have the Honorable Melvin R. Wright -- Deputy Presiding Judge of the Superior Court’s Civil and presiding judge at the “Housing Conditions Calendar” -- explain this new process at our last stakeholder session on May 26th.  
 
Judge Wright will make similar presentations at the following events, all of which are open to the public:

(Click here for "Housing Conditions Calendar" flier with learning session dates)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010
12:30 pm – 2 pm
DC Court of Appeals
430 I Street, NW

Friday, June 18, 2010
1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Sponsored by the Apartment and Office Building Association 1350 I Street, NW – Lower Level Conference Room

Tuesday, June 29, 2010
1 pm – 4 pm
Department of Housing and Community Development 1800 Martin Luther King, Jr, Avenue, SE

For more information and relevant forms, please go to the D.C. Superior Court's web-link for the new calendar:  dccourts.gov/dccourts/superior/civil/housing