D.C. Superior Court Amends Landlord/Tenant Rules

On July 23, 2019, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia issued amendments to the Landlord and Tenant Branch Rules of Procedure.

Generally, the amendments made stylistic changes that are consistent with the recent amendments to the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure (i.e., the replacement of the word “shall” with “must”).

Along with the stylistic changes, the amendments made several substantive changes:

Rule 3-II: New rule allows a defendant to join additional parties in actions based on alleged nonpayment of rent if the defendant claims that another person or entity is legally liable for all or part of the amount alleged in the complaint. Motion for joinder must be filed no later than the time for appearance of the existing defendant stated in the summons.

Rule 4: An affidavit of service must now be filed at least six days before the date set for the initial hearing. If the plaintiff does not file an affidavit in that time period, the clerk will dismiss the case without prejudice.

Rule 5: Counterclaims must now be requested in writing at least 14 days before trial. This rule has also been amended to include the procedures for asserting defenses of recoupment and setoff and for filing an undertaking.

Rule 7: Any party may file an application requesting that the court continue the initial hearing date, after making a reasonable effort to notify the other party. The court will hold a hearing on the continuance request on the same day the application is filed.

Rule 10: The amendments clarify that – for cases certified to the Civil Division – parties are entitled to 10 requests for production. (Previous version of the rule stated that parties could only request 10 documents.)

Rule 12-I: Rule now states that a judgment for possession may not be entered as a sanction for a defendant’s failure to comply with a pretrial payment order in any case in which the complaint does not allege the defendant’s nonpayment of rent as a basis for the entry of a judgment in favor of the plaintiff.

Rule 14-II: Rule now states that, in a residential housing case, the redemption amount may not include late fees.

Rule 16: The amendments removed the two day waiting period to file a writ after judgment.

The amendments take effect on September 16, 2019. A full version of the amendments can be found here.

This summary is not intended to contain legal advice or to be an exhaustive review. If you have any questions about this summary, feel free to contact our Real Estate Litigation and Transactions Practice Group.