The District of Columbia Code Title 42 Chapter 35 Section 41.02, 41.03, and 41.05 limits the type of criminal record data that a landlord may use to screen a tenant in the following manner and provides penalties for violations:
Inquiries into Certain Arrests, Accusations, and Convictions
(a) A housing provider may not make an inquiry about or consider a previous arrest of the applicant if the arrest did not result in a conviction.
Pending Accusations Cannot be a Factor
(b)(1) Before making a conditional offer, a housing provider may not make an inquiry about or require an applicant to disclose or reveal a pending criminal accusation or criminal conviction.
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) of this subsection, a housing provider may have an applicant complete and sign all required paperwork authorizing the housing provider to perform an inquiry or any other check related to the eligibility criteria the housing provider may use in deciding whether to rent or lease to an applicant.
Disclosure of Eligibility Criteria Required
(c)(1) Before accepting an application fee, a housing provider must disclose, in writing, to the applicant:
(A) The eligibility criteria, including the financial, employment, criminal, and rental history criteria, used in deciding whether to rent or lease to the applicant; and
(B) A statement that the applicant may provide evidence demonstrating inaccuracies within the applicant’s criminal record or evidence of rehabilitation or other mitigating factors.
When Pending Accusations Can be Used
(d) After making a conditional offer, a housing provider may only consider a pending criminal accusation or criminal conviction that has occurred within the past 7 years when the pending criminal accusation or criminal conviction is for one or more of the following crimes, whether committed in the District of Columbia or any other state, or the United States:
(1) Arson under § 22-301;
(2) Burning one’s own property with intent to defraud or injure another under § 22-302;
(3) Malicious burning, destruction, or injury of another’s property under § 22-303;
(4) Burglary under § 22-801;
(5) Assault with intent to kill, rob, or poison, or to commit first degree sexual abuse, second degree sexual abuse, or child sexual abuse under § 22-401;
(6) Assault with intent to commit mayhem or with dangerous weapon under § 22-402;
(7) Aggravated assault under § 22-404.01;
(8) Mayhem or maliciously disfiguring under § 22-406;
(9) Making, drawing, or uttering check, draft, or order with intent to defraud under § 22-1510;
(10) Attempt to commit a crime under § 22-1803, if the attempt is to commit a crime listed in this subsection;
(11) Conspiracy to commit a crime under § 22-1805a, if the conspiracy is to commit a crime listed in this subsection;
(12) Trafficking in labor or commercial sex acts under § 22-1833;
(13) Sex trafficking of children under § 22-1834;
(14) Kidnapping under § 22-2001;
(15) Murder in the first degree under § 22-2101;
(16) Murder in the first degree under § 22-2102;
(17) Murder in the second degree under § 22-2103;
(18) Manslaughter as penalized under § 22-2105;
(19) Murder of law enforcement officer under § 22-2106;
(20) Solicitation of murder or other crime of violence as penalized under § 22-2107;
(21) Abducting, enticing, or harboring a child for the purpose of prostitution; harboring such child under § 22-2704;
(22) Robbery under § 22-2801;
(23) Attempt to commit robbery under § 22-2802;
(24) First degree sexual abuse under § 22-3002;
(25) Second degree sexual abuse under § 22-3003;
(26) First degree child sexual abuse under § 22-3008;
(27) Second degree child sexual abuse under § 22-3009;
(28) First degree sexual abuse of a minor under § 22-3009.01;
(29) Second degree sexual abuse of a minor under § 22-3009.02;
(30) First degree sexual abuse of a ward, patient, client, or prisoner under § 22-3013;
(31) Second degree sexual abuse of a ward, patient, client, or prisoner under § 22-3014;
(32) First degree sexual abuse of a patient or client under § 22-3015;
(33) Second degree sexual abuse of a patient or client under § 22-3016;
(34) Acts of terrorism under § 22-3153;
(35) Manufacture or possession of a weapon of mass destruction under § 22-3154;
(36) Use, dissemination, or detonation of a weapon of mass destruction under § 22-3155;
(37) Fraud under § 22-3221;
(38) Credit card fraud under § 22-3223;
(39) Insurance fraud in the first degree under § 22-3225.02;
(40) Insurance fraud in the second degree under § 22-3225.03;
(41) Forgery under § 22-3241;
(42) Prohibited acts A under § 48-904.01, excluding subsection (d)(1) of this section;
(43) Prohibited acts B under § 48-904.02;
(44) Prohibited acts C under § 48-904.03;
(45) Prohibited acts D under § 48-904.03a;
(46) Distribution to minors under § 48-904.06;
(47) Enlistment of minors to distribute under § 48-904.07; and
(48) Attempt or conspiracy to commit a crime under § 48-904.09, if the attempt or conspiracy is to commit a crime listed in this subsection.
When a Conditional Offer May be Withdrawn
(e)(1) A housing provider may withdraw a conditional offer based on an applicant’s pending criminal accusation or a criminal conviction that has occurred within the past 7 years under subsection (d) of this section only if the housing provider determines, on balance, that the withdrawal achieves a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest.
(2) The housing provider’s determination of such an interest must be reasonable in light of the following factors:
(A) The nature and severity of the criminal offense;
(B) The age of the applicant at the time of the occurrence of the criminal offense;
(C) The time which has elapsed since the occurrence of the criminal offense;
(D) Any information produced by the applicant, or produced on the applicant’s behalf, in regard to the applicant’s rehabilitation and good conduct since the occurrence of the criminal offense;
(E) The degree to which the criminal offense, if it reoccurred, would negatively impact the safety of the housing provider’s other tenants or property; and
(F) Whether the criminal offense occurred on or was connected to property that was rented or leased by the applicant.
Written Notification Required for Withdrawal
(f)(1) If a housing provider withdraws a conditional offer, the housing provider shall provide the applicant with written notification that includes, with specificity, the reason or reasons for the withdrawal of the conditional offer and a notice that advises the applicant of the applicant’s right to file an administrative complaint with the Office of Human Rights.
Applicant Has a Right to Information
(2)(A) The applicant may request, within 20 days after the housing provider’s notice of the withdrawal, that the housing provider afford the applicant a copy of all information that the housing provider relied upon in considering the applicant, including criminal records.
(B) A housing provider shall provide the information requested under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, free of charge, within 10 days after receipt of a timely request.
(g) Nothing in this section shall be construed to allow a housing provider to make an inquiry about or require an applicant to disclose or reveal a pending criminal accusation or criminal conviction of an individual under 18 years of age who will reside in the rental unit.
DC Code § 42–3541.02.
This chapter shall not apply:
(1) To a housing provider that owns and occupies a housing accommodation that includes 3 or fewer rental units;
(2) Where a federal law or regulation or District law requires the consideration of an applicant’s criminal history for the purposes of obtaining a housing accommodation; or
(3) Where a federal law or regulation or District law otherwise allows for denial of an applicant due to certain criminal convictions.
DC Code § 42–3541.03.
(a) If the Office of Human Rights determines that there is probable cause to believe that a violation of this chapter has occurred, the Office of Human Rights shall certify the complaint to the Commission on Human Rights, who may impose the following penalties, of which half shall be awarded to the complainant and half shall be awarded to the District of Columbia and deposited into the General Fund of the District of Columbia:
(1) For a housing provider that supplies one to 10 rental units in the District of Columbia, a fine of up to $1,000;
(2) For a housing provider that supplies 11 to 20 rental units in the District of Columbia, a fine of up to $2,500; or
(3) For a housing provider that supplies 21 or more rental units in the District of Columbia, a fine of up to $5,000.
(b) The fines set forth in subsection (a) of this section may be doubled for any housing provider that:
(1) Violates this chapter more than twice within a calendar year; or
(2) Fails to implement a corrective action ordered by the Commission on Human Rights within 90 days after the corrective action is ordered.
(c) For any violation that occurs within 6 months after the date this act applies [July 20, 2017], the Commission on Human Rights shall issue warnings and orders to correct.
DC Code § 42–3541.05.