Code of the District of Columbia

§ 16–1501. Definition; summons.

*NOTE: This section includes amendments by emergency legislation that will expire on September 5, 2021. To view the text of this section after the expiration of all emergency and temporary legislation, click this link: Permanent Version.*

*NOTE: This section includes amendments by temporary legislation that will expire on October 27, 2021. To view the text of this section after the expiration of all emergency and temporary legislation, click this link: Permanent Version.*

(a) *NOTE: This section includes amendments by temporary legislation that will expire on October 27, 2021. To view the text of this section after the expiration of all emergency and temporary legislation, click this link: Permanent Version.*

When a person detains possession of real property without right, or after his right to possession has ceased, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, on complaint under oath verified by the person aggrieved by the detention, or by his agent or attorney having knowledge of the facts, may issue a summons in English and Spanish to the party complained of to appear and show cause why judgment should not be given against him for the restitution of possession.

[(b)] The person aggrieved shall not file a complaint seeking restitution of possession pursuant to this section for nonpayment of rent in an amount less than $600; except, that the person aggrieved may file a complaint to recover the amount owed.

[(c)](1) During a period of time for which the Mayor has declared a public health emergency pursuant to D.C. Official Code § 7-2304.01, and for 60 days thereafter, the person aggrieved shall not file a complaint seeking relief pursuant to this section, except where the complaint alleges that the tenant's continuing presence at the housing accommodation where the tenant resides presents a current and substantial threat to the health and safety of tenants, on-site agents, or employees of the owners of the housing accommodation, or household members or guests of other tenants, because the tenant has violated an obligation of tenancy by engaging in an unlawful possession of a firearm, threats or acts of violence, or assault.

(2) For purposes of this subsection, the term:

(A) "Act of violence" shall have the same meaning as "crime of violence" as provided in D.C. Official Code § 23-1331(4).

(B) "Assault" shall be construed according to section 806 of An Act To establish a code of law for the District of Columbia, approved March 3, 1901 (31 Stat. 1189; D.C. Official Code § 22-404).

(C) "Threat" shall be construed according to section 2 of An Act To confer concurrent jurisdiction on the police court of the District of Columbia in certain jurisdictions, approved July 16, 1912 (37 Stat. 192; D.C. Official Code § 22-407).

(D) "Unlawful possession of a firearm" shall be construed according to section 3 of An Act To control the possession, sale, transfer, and use of pistols and other dangerous weapons in the District of Columbia, to provide penalties, to prescribe rules of evidence, and for other purposes, approved July 8, 1932 (47 Stat. 650; D.C. Official Code § 22-4503).

(3) Nothing in this section shall be construed to create an obligation on the part of any person to pursue an eviction action under this subsection.

(4) No tenant shall be evicted from a rental unit based on a complaint filed under this subsection unless the court finds that the alleged violation of an obligation of tenancy meets all of the requirements of this subsection.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 581, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 560, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(g)(1); June 29, 1984, D.C. Law 5-90,§ 2(a), 31 DCR 2537; Mar. 16, 2021, D.C. Law 23-255, 67 DCR 13959; June 7, 2021, D.C. Act 24-96, § 404(a)(1)(B), 0 DCR 0.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-1501.

1973 Ed., § 16-1501.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 15-318, § 16-1502, and § 42-3602.

Cross References

Ejectment actions, see § 42-3210.

Forcible entry and detainer, see § 22-3301.

Remedies of purchaser upon refusal to deliver possession, see § 15-318.

Sufferance estates, see § 42-520.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(1) of Coronavirus Support Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Act 24-96, June 7, 2021, 0 DCR 0).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(a)(1) of Eviction Moratorium Public Safety Exception Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Act 24-67, May 3, 2021, 68 DCR 004907).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(1) of Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Act 24-30, Mar. 17, 2021, 68 DCR 003101).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of Fairness in Renting Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Act 24-3, Jan. 25, 2021, 68 DCR 001529).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of Fairness in Renting Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-497, Nov. 10, 2020, 67 DCR 13949).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(1) of Coronavirus Support Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-405, Aug. 19, 2020, 67 DCR 10235).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of Fairness in Renting Temporary Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Law 23-255, Mar. 16, 2021, 67 DCR 13959).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(1) of Coronavirus Support Temporary Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Law 23-130, Oct. 9, 2020, 67 DCR 8622).