The District of Columbia Code Title 42 Chapter 35 Section 02.05 outlines those types of landlords and properties that must register for the rent stabilization program and which one qualify to be exempt.
The rent control law is known as the Rent Stabilization Program, DC Code § 42-3502.01. All rental units must be registered with the Rental Accommodations Division (RAD) either as subject to rent control or exempt from rent control. For any unit that is not registered with RAD, rent control automatically applies.
Exempt Properties from Rent Control
Here are common exemptions from the DC rent control requirements:
- Federally or District-subsidized housing
- Rental property built after December 31, 1975
- Rental property owned by a natural person (i.e., not an LLC) who owns no more than four rental units in DC
- Rental property that has been continuously vacant since January 1,
Required Exemption Form
In order to receive the exemption, the following form must be completed and filed: Form 1 – RAD Registration Claim of Exemption Form.
Here is the the entire section of the law which addresses registration and coverage for the rent stabilization program:
Registration and Coverage
(a) Except as provided in subsection (e) of this section, §§ 42-3502.05(f) through 42-3502.19 shall apply to each rental unit in the District; provided, that the following rental units shall be exempt from subsections (g) and (h)(2) of this section and §§ 42-3502.06 through 42-3502.16, 42-3502.18, and 42-3502.19:
(1) Any rental unit in any federally or District-owned housing accommodation or in any housing accommodation with respect to which the mortgage or rent is federally or District-subsidized except units subsidized under subchapter III of this chapter, or any unit rented by a home and community-based services waiver provider and occupied by a tenant with a disability without regard to income but otherwise as defined in section 206(f)(2)(A) [Repealed], or co-leased by a home and community-based services waiver provider and occupied by a tenant with a disability without regard to income but otherwise as defined in section 206(f)(2)(A) [Repealed];
(2) Any rental unit in any newly constructed housing accommodation for which the building permit was issued after December 31, 1975, or any newly created rental unit, added to an existing structure or housing accommodation and covered by a certificate of occupancy for housing use issued after January 1, 1980, provided, however, that this exemption shall not apply to any housing accommodation the construction of which required the demolition of an housing accommodation subject to this chapter, unless the number of newly constructed rental units exceeds the number of demolished rental units;
(3) Except as provided by subsection (a-1) of this section, any rental unit in any housing accommodation of 4 or fewer rental units, including any aggregate of 4 rental units whether within the same structure or not, provided:
(A) The housing accommodation is owned by not more than 4 natural persons;
(B) None of the housing providers has an interest, either directly or indirectly, in any other rental unit in the District of Columbia;
(C) The housing provider of the housing accommodation files with the Rent Administrator a claim of exemption statement which consists of an oath or affirmation by the housing provider of the valid claim to the exemption. The claim of exemption statement shall also contain the signatures of each person having an interest, direct or indirect, in the housing accommodation. Any change in the ownership of the exempted housing accommodation or change in the housing provider’s interest in any other housing accommodation which would invalidate the exemption claim must be reported in writing to the Rent Administrator within 30 days of the change;
(D) The limitation of the exemption to a housing accommodation owned by natural persons shall not apply to a housing accommodation owned or controlled by a decedent’s estate or testamentary trust if the housing accommodation was, at the time of the decedent’s death, already exempt under the terms of paragraphs (3)(A) and (3)(B) of this subsection; and
(E) For purposes of determining the eligibility of a condominium rental unit for the exemption provided by this paragraph, by § 42-3404.13(a)(3), or by § 42-4016(a)(3) [expired], a housing accommodation shall be the aggregate of the condominium rental units and any other rental units owned by the natural person(s) claiming the exemption.
(4) Any housing accommodation which has been continuously vacant and not subject to a rental agreement since January 1, 1985, and any housing accommodation previously exempt under § 206(a)(4) of the Rental Housing Act of 1980, provided that upon rerental the housing accommodation is in substantial compliance with the housing regulations when offered for rent;
(5) Any rental unit in any structure owned by a cooperative housing association, if:
(A) The proprietary lease or occupancy agreement for the rental unit is owned by not more than 4 natural persons, who are shareholders or members of the cooperative housing association;
(B) None of the shareholders or members has an interest, directly or indirectly, in more than 4 rental units in the District of Columbia. A shareholder or member of a cooperative housing association owning a proprietary lease or occupancy agreement for a rental unit in an association shall not be deemed to have an indirect interest in any other rental unit in any structure owned by a cooperative housing association solely by virtue of ownership of a stock or membership certificate, proprietary lease, or other evidence of membership in the association; and
(C) The shareholders or members owning the proprietary lease or occupancy agreement for the rental unit file with the Rent Administrator a claim of exemption statement which consists of an oath or affirmation by the shareholders or members of a valid claim to the exemption. The claim of exemption statement shall also contain the signature of each person having an interest, direct or indirect, in the proprietary lease or occupancy agreement for the rental unit. Any change in the ownership of the proprietary lease or occupancy agreement or change in the shareholder’s or member’s interest in any other rental unit which would invalidate the exemption claim must be reported in writing to the Rent Administrator within 30 days of the change;
(7) Housing accommodations for which a building improvement plan has been executed under the apartment improvement program and housing accommodations which receive rehabilitation assistance under other multi-family assistance programs administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development, if:
(A) The building improvement plan, accompanied by a certification signed by the tenants of 70% of the occupied units, is filed with the Division at the time of execution;
(B) Upon expiration of the building improvement plan, the exemption provided under this paragraph shall terminate and the housing accommodation will again be subject to §§ 42-3502.05(f) through 42-3502.19; and
(C) Upon expiration of the building improvement plan, and notwithstanding the provisions of § 42-3502.09, the schedule of rents charged, services, and facilities established by the building improvement plans shall be considered the rents charged and service and facility levels established for the purposes of subchapter II of this chapter;
(a-1) If a housing provider comes into possession of a housing accommodation as a result of a transfer pursuant to § 42-3404.02(c)(2), then the housing provider shall be eligible for the exemption provided by subsection (a)(3) of this section only if the housing provider was eligible for the exemption at the time of the transfer.
(b) Rent may not be increased under subsections (a)(9) and (a)(10) of this section if:
(1) The unit is vacated as a result of eviction or termination of tenancy where the housing provider seeks in good faith to recover possession for occupancy by the housing provider or a member of the housing provider’s family, or the housing provider seeks to recover possession in order to remove permanently the unit from rental housing; or
(2) The vacating of a rental unit by a tenant as a result of a housing provider creating an unreasonable interference with the tenant’s comfort, safety, or enjoyment of the rental unit or as a result of retaliatory action under § 42-3505.02 shall not be considered a voluntary vacating of the unit.
(c) Notwithstanding subsections (b)(1) and (b)(2) of this section the housing provider shall be entitled to an exemption whenever the unit is next vacated in accordance with subsections (a)(9) and (a)(10)(A) of this section after an intervening loss of the exemption.
(d) Prior to the execution of a lease or other rental agreement after July 17, 1985, a prospective tenant of any unit exempted under subsection (a) of this section shall receive a notice in writing advising the prospective tenant that rent increases for the accommodation are not regulated by the rent stabilization program.
(e) This chapter shall not apply to the following units:
(1) Any rental unit operated by a foreign government as a residence for diplomatic personnel;
(2) Any rental unit in an establishment which has as its primary purpose providing diagnostic care and treatment of diseases, including, but not limited to, hospitals, convalescent homes, nursing homes, and personal care homes;
(3) Any dormitory; and
(4) Following a determination by the Rent Administrator, any rental unit or housing accommodation intended for use as long-term temporary housing by families with 1 or more members that satisfies each of the following requirements:
(A) The rental unit or housing accommodation is occupied by families that, at the time of their initial occupancy, have had incomes at or below 50% of the District median income for families of the size in question for the immediately preceding 12 months;
(B) The housing provider of the rental unit or housing accommodation is a nonprofit charitable organization that operates the unit or housing accommodation on a strictly not-for-profit basis under which no part of the net earnings of the housing provider inure to the benefit of or are distributable to its directors, officers, or any private individual other than as reasonable compensation for services rendered; and
(C) The housing provider offers a comprehensive social services program to resident families.
(f)(1) Within 90 days after completion of the publicly accessible rent control housing database created pursuant to § 42-3502.03c, each housing provider of a housing accommodation for which the housing provider is receiving rent or is entitled to receive rent shall file a new registration statement and, if applicable, a new claim of exemption via the online housing provider portal developed pursuant to § 42-3502.03c(e-1).
(2) A person who becomes a housing provider of a housing accommodation 90 days or more after completion of the publicly accessible rent control housing database created pursuant to § 42-3502.03c, shall file a registration statement and, if applicable, claim of exemption, within 30 days after becoming a housing provider.
(3) The registration statement and claim of exemption shall solicit, among the information required for registration, the following:
(A) For all housing accommodations:
(i) Address of the housing accommodation;
(ii) Type of housing accommodation;
(iii) Number of bedrooms in each unit of the housing accommodation; and
(iv) Property owner’s business information.
(B) For each housing accommodation required to obtain a housing business license, the dates and numbers of the housing business license and the certificates of occupancy, where required by law, issued by the District government, and a copy of each housing business license and certificate of occupancy;
(C) For each housing accommodation not required to obtain a housing business license, the information contained therein and the dates and numbers of the certificates of occupancy issued by the District government, and a copy of each certificate;
(D) Where the housing provider does not seek an exemption under subsection (a) of this section for the housing accommodation:
(i) The current rent charged for each rental unit in the housing accommodation, the related services included, and the related facilities and charges;
(ii) The current related and optional services and facilities provided as part of rent or the rental agreement;
(iii) A list of any outstanding violations of the housing regulations applicable to the housing accommodation, or an affidavit of the housing provider stating that the housing provider duly inspected the housing accommodation within the 6 months prior to filing the registration, and that there are no outstanding violations known to the housing provider; and
(iv) The rate of return for the housing accommodation and the computations made by the housing provider to arrive at the rate of return, by application of the formula provided in § 42-3502.12.
(E) Where the housing provider seeks an exemption under subsection (a) of this section for the housing accommodation, the date on which each unit first became exempt, and the rent charged for the period of tenancy immediately preceding the first exemption.
(4)(A) No penalties for failure to previously register the housing accommodation shall be assessed against a housing provider who registers a housing accommodation under this section within 90 days after completion of the publicly accessible rent control housing database created pursuant to § 42-3502.03c.
(B)(i) Beginning 91 days after completion of the publicly accessible rent control housing database created pursuant to § 42-3502.03c, a housing provider, other than the federal government, who fails to register a housing accommodation under this section shall pay a penalty of $100 per unit to the District government. The penalty shall be deposited into the Rental Housing Registration Fund established by [§ 42-3502.03e].
(ii) A housing provider, other than a housing provider exempt pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, who does not timely register under this section may not institute a rent increase authorized by § 42-3402.08(a) until the housing provider registers and pays any associated penalty.
(g)(1) A housing provider shall file the following notices with the Rent Administrator:
(A) A copy of the rent increase notice given to the tenant for a rent increase under § 42-3502.08(h)(2), within 30 days after the effective date of the increase; provided, that if rent increases are given to multiple tenants with the same effective date, the housing provider shall file a sample rent increase notice and a list attached stating the unit number, tenant name, previous rent charged, new rent charged, and effective date for each rent increase;
(B) A copy of the notice given to the tenant for an increase under § 42-3502.13(d) stating the calculation of the initial rent charged in the lease (based on increases during the preceding 3 years) within 30 days of the commencement of the lease term;
(C) A notice of a change in ownership or management of the housing accommodation, or change in the services and facilities included in the rent charged, within 30 days after the change.
(g-1)(1) After the expiration or termination of an exemption claimed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, a housing provider shall file, upon the re-renting of the unit, an amended registration statement with the Rent Administrator, which shall include the rent charged for the unit, calculated in accordance with the requirements of § 42-3502.09, and the documentation supporting the calculation.
(2) The notice requirements of subsection (h)(2) of this section shall apply to any amended registration statement filed pursuant to this subsection.
(h)(1) Each registration statement filed under this section shall be available for public inspection through the website of the Department of Housing and Community Development.
(2) Each housing provider shall keep a duplicate of the registration statement posted in a public place on the premises of the housing accommodation to which the registration statement applies. Each housing provider may, instead of posting in each housing accommodation comprised of a single rental unit, mail to each tenant of the housing accommodation a duplicate of the registration statement.
DC Code § 42–3502.05.