Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 15. Forcible Entry and Detainer.


§ 16–1501. Definition; summons.

(a) 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) During a period of time for which the Mayor has declared a public health emergency pursuant to [§ 7-2304.01], and for 60 days thereafter, the person aggrieved shall not file a complaint seeking relief pursuant to this section.


(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; Oct. 9, 2020, D.C. Law 23-130, § 404(a)(1), 67 DCR 8622.)

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 Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 [Effective August 19, 2020 through October 8, 2020] (D.C. Act 23-405, Aug. 19, 2020, 67 DCR 10235).


§ 16–1502. Service of summons.

The summons provided for by section 16-1501 shall be served seven days, exclusive of Sundays, legal holidays, and a period of time for which the Mayor has declared a public health emergency pursuant to [§ 7-2304.01], before the day fixed for the trial of the action. If the defendant has left the District of Columbia, or cannot be found, the summons may be served by delivering a copy thereof to the tenant, or by leaving a copy with some person above the age of sixteen years residing on or in possession of the premises sought to be recovered, and if no one is in actual possession of the premises, or residing thereon, by posting a copy of the summons on the premises where it may be conveniently read. If the summons is posted on the premises, a copy of the summons shall be mailed first class U.S. mail, postage prepaid, to the premises sought to be recovered, in the name of the person known to be in possession of the premises, or if unknown, in the name of the person occupying the premises, within 3 calendar days of the date of posting.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 581, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; June 29, 1984, D.C. Law 5-90, § 2(b), 31 DCR 2537; Oct. 9, 2020, D.C. Law 23-130, § 404(a)(2), 67 DCR 8622.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-1502.

1973 Ed., § 16-1502.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-5103.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 404(a)(2) of Coronavirus Support Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 [Effective August 19, 2020 through October 8, 2020] (D.C. Act 23-405, Aug. 19, 2020, 67 DCR 10235).


§ 16–1503. Judgment and execution for possession.

When, upon a trial in a proceeding pursuant to this chapter, it appears that the plaintiff is entitled to the possession of the premises, judgment and execution for the possession shall be awarded in his favor, with costs; and if the plaintiff becomes nonsuit or fails to prove his right to the possession, the defendant shall have judgment and execution for his costs.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 581, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-1503.

1973 Ed., § 16-1503.


§ 16–1504. Certification to District Court upon plea of title; undertaking [Repealed]

Repealed.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 560, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(g)(2).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-1504.


§ 16–1505. Conclusiveness of judgment.

A judgment of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in a proceeding pursuant to this chapter is not a bar to any afteraction brought by either party, and does not conclude any question of title between them, where title is not pleaded by the defendants.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 582, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 560, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(g)(1).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-1505.

1973 Ed., § 16-1505.