DC Council Passes Bill Requiring Payment Plans for DC Renters

by Nena Perry-Brown

Today, the DC Council unanimously passed more emergency legislation in response to COVID-19 that adds protections for renters in the city, ensuring the option of payment plans to satisfy rent charged during the public health emergency. The bill further amends previously-passed emergency legislation, and another bill will be introduced later in order to consolidate and refine all of the COVID Emergency bills. 

The new legislation requires lessors to offer affected residential and commercial tenants the option of entering into a payment plan for rent due during the public health emergency. The payment plan, which cannot require or request a lump sum payment, can span a period of one year after the emergency is lifted.

For residential tenants, this provision is only applicable to buildings of at least five units. With tenants' consent, lessors can also apply security deposits to the payment plan. Lessors would also be required to notify all tenants of the payment plan option and inform them of how to apply. 

Tenants would be eligible for a payment plan if they can demonstrate either direct or indirect financial difficulties stemming from the pandemic, and any delinquencies that existed prior to the start of the public health emergency would not disqualify tenants from securing a payment plan.

Any tenant whose application is denied would be able to file a complaint, either with DC's Rent Administrator for residential tenants, or with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs for commercial tenants. Eligible tenants will have to notify their landlord of financial difficulties and cannot also receive a rent reduction per the previous COVID emergency legislation. The bill also extends the eviction moratorium through the 60 days following the emergency being lifted.

The legislation also requires that, in buildings that have amenity fees and have restricted access to amenities during the public health emergency, renters be refunded the prorated money paid toward amenities. If amenity fees are combined with monthly rent, no such reimbursement would be required. Owners or landlords of all residential buildings, including single units, are also required to clean their common areas or frequently-touched surfaces "on a regular basis".

The bill also includes a provision capping fees from third-party ordering and delivery companies to restaurants; another provision requires that, for those financially impacted by the pandemic, credit reporting agencies flag any derogatory marks that occur during and 60 days after the public health emergency with a "COVID-19 alert" unless the consumer requests otherwise.

Another bill to be considered on Tuesday would prohibit foreclosures through 60 days after the emergency is lifted.

Thumbnail image by Ted Eytan.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dc-council-passes-covid-bill-requiring-payment-plans-for-renters/16801

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