Code of the District of Columbia

§ 42–3509.01. Penalties.

(a) Any person who knowingly (1) demands or receives any rent for a rental unit in excess of the maximum allowable rent applicable to that rental unit under the provisions of subchapter II of this chapter, or (2) substantially reduces or eliminates related services previously provided for a rental unit, shall be held liable by the Rent Administrator or Rental Housing Commission, as applicable, for the amount by which the rent exceeds the applicable rent charged or for treble that amount (in the event of bad faith) and/or for a roll back of the rent to the amount the Rent Administrator or Rental Housing Commission determines.

(a-1) Any housing provider who knowingly or willfully violates § 42-3505.31, or § 42-3505.01(a), regarding a prohibited eviction for the nonpayment of a late fee, shall be liable to the tenant for the amount by which the late fee exceeds the allowable late fee, or for treble that amount in the event of bad faith, and shall be subject to a civil fine of at least $100 and not more than $ 5,000 for each violation.

(a-2) A housing provider found to have violated any provision of section 533, section 534, or section 535, or section 304 of Title 14 of the Housing Regulations of the District of Columbia, issued August 11, 1955 (C.C. 55-1503; 14 DCMR § 304), shall be liable to the tenant for treble damages if the housing provider is found to have acted in bad faith.

(b) Any person who wilfully (1) collects a rent increase after it has been disapproved under this chapter, until and unless the disapproval has been reversed by a court of competent jurisdiction, (2) makes a false statement in any document filed under this chapter, (3) commits any other act in violation of any provision of this chapter or of any final administrative order issued under this chapter, or (4) fails to meet obligations required under this chapter shall be subject to a civil fine of not more than $5,000 for each violation.

(c) Any housing provider who has provided relocation assistance under this chapter may bring a civil action to recover the amount of relocation assistance paid to any person who was not eligible to receive the assistance.

(d) Any person who knowingly or wilfully makes a false or fraudulent application, report, or statement in order to obtain, or for the purpose of obtaining, any grant or payment under the Tenant Assistance Program, or any person ceasing to become eligible for the grant or payment and who does not immediately notify the Department of his or her ineligibility, shall be fined not less than $50 and not more than $5,000 for each offense. A person who knowingly and wilfully makes false or fraudulent reports or statements, or of failing to notify promptly the Department of the person’s ineligibility, shall repay to the District government all amounts paid by the District government in reliance on the false or fraudulent application, report, or statement, or all amounts paid after eligibility ceases, and shall be liable for interest on the amounts at the rate of 1/2 of 1% per month until repaid.

(e) A housing provider who discriminates against a family receiving or eligible to receive Tenant Assistance Program assistance, an elderly tenant, or a family with children when renting housing accommodations shall be fined not more than $5,000 for each violation. Repeat violators shall be fined not more than $15,000 for each violation. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as requiring the rental of a rental unit to a tenant with a child in the case of a single-room-occupancy rental unit designed for occupancy by a single adult living alone.

(f) Civil fines, penalties, and fees may be imposed as alternative sanctions for any infraction of subsections (b), (d), and (e) of this section, or any rules or regulations issued under the authority of these subsections, pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2. Adjudication of any infraction of these subsections shall be pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2.

(g) Any person who knowingly, wilfully, and in bad faith makes a false or fraudulent statement to receive a tax credit for not assessing capital improvement increases to an elderly tenant or tenant with a disability shall be subject to a fine of not more than $5,000 for each violation.

(h) If a housing provider's challenge, pursuant to § 42-3502.24(h)(2), to a tenant's registration to establish elderly or disability status under § 42-3502.24(d) is determined to have been frivolous or made in bad faith, the housing provider shall be deemed to have made an unlawful demand for rent, and shall be held liable to the tenant, as applicable, for:

(1) At a minimum, an amount equal to 2% of the total annual current rent charged;

(2) At a maximum, an amount equal to the total annual current rent charged; and

(3) In addition to the penalties specified in paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection, treble damages based upon the amounts prescribed in those paragraphs.

(July 17, 1985, D.C. Law 6-10, § 901, 32 DCR 3089; Oct. 5, 1985, D.C. Law 6-42, § 408, 32 DCR 4450; Feb. 24, 1987, D.C. Law 6-167, § 3, 33 DCR 6732; Oct. 2, 1987, D.C. Law 7-30, § 5, 34 DCR 5304; Mar. 8, 1991, D.C. Law 8-237, § 23, 38 DCR 314; Sept. 26, 1992, D.C. Law 9-154, § 2(c), 39 DCR 5673; Aug. 25, 1994, D.C. Law 10-155, § 2(e), 41 DCR 4873; Aug. 5, 2006, D.C. Law 16-145, § 2(a), 53 DCR 4889; Apr. 24, 2007, D.C. Law 16-305,§ 67(f), 53 DCR 6198; Dec. 8, 2016, D.C. Law 21-172, § 2(d), 63 DCR 12959; Feb. 18, 2017, D.C. Law 21-210, § 2(e), 63 DCR 15302; Apr. 7, 2017, D.C. Law 21-239, § 3(h), 64 DCR 1588.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 45-2591.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 42-3505.05.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-145, in subsec. (a), substituted “rent charged” for “rent ceiling”.

D.C. Law 16-305, in subsec. (g), substituted “tenant or tenant with a disability” for “or disabled tenant”.

Expiration of Law

Section 907 of D.C. Law 6-10, as amended by § 2(d) of D.C. Law 8-48 and § 818 of D.C. Law 11-52, provided that all subchapters of the act, except III and V, shall terminate on December 31, 2000.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Rent Control Reform Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-470, July 31, 2006, 53 DCR 6772).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 4 of Tenant Assistance Program Amendment Temporary Act of 1987 (D.C. Law 7-48, December 10, 1987, law notification 34 DCR 8107).

Editor's Notes

Application of 9-154: Section 3 of D.C. Law 9-154 provided that the act shall not apply to any increase in a rent ceiling for a rental unit, or to any increase in the rent charged for a rental unit, when the capital improvement petition has been approved by the Rent Administrator and the resultant rent increase was implemented prior to September 26, 1992.

For temporary amendment to the termination provision of D.C. Law 6-10, see § 818 of the Omnibus Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 1995 (D.C. Act 11-124, July 27, 1995, 42 DCR 4160).