High-Profile Eviction is a Good Reminder: Do Not Lock Out Your Tenant in DC
A DC couple is in hot water this week because of a high-profile eviction.
CNN is reporting today that the landlord who rented a room in their Capitol Hill House to the EPA head, Scott Pruitt, for $50 per night locked him out of their house “after becoming increasingly frustrated with him as a tenant”.
Unfortunately for Vicki and Steven Hart, who “were political donors to Pruitt when he was an Oklahoma state official” and according to the CNN article, only charged Pruitt “$6,100 for the room over six months, a rate significantly lower than market value”, a seeming attempt to avoid further scrutiny may have created more trouble for the couple.
The Harts violated the rights of their tenant by evicting him in this way. According to the DC Eviction Code, “No tenant shall be evicted from a rental unit for any reason other than for nonpayment of rent unless the tenant has been served with a written notice to vacate.” In other words, tenants’ rights in the District of Columbia require eviction notices to be executed through the court system and delivered in writing–a requirement that would even apply if Mr. Pruitt had overstayed his lease.
And, ABC News reported that the Harts did not have a basic business license, which is required for any rental of residential housing in the District of Columbia, including short term or long term rentals, the entire dwelling or just a room.
Simply put, the Harts broke the law when they rented the room without a license and again when they changed the locks. And since Scott Pruitt is no stranger to filing lawsuits, I’d hate to be in their position. But this type of oversight isn’t unusual for inexperienced landlords. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of regulations and guidelines in DC that are often inadvertently broken or overlooked even by the best-intending and most conscientious owners.
If you are renting your house or condo in the District of Columbia, don’t make the same mistakes! Call us at 888-857-6594 for a free consultation to evaluate your property, current rental situation and to receive a proposal to convert to professional rental management. We have your back!