Washington D.C. Rent Increase Laws

Last Updated: January 3, 2024 by Jessica Menefee

Rent Increase Facts Answer
Reason Needed? No
Maximum Amount 8.9% (5% for seniors/disabled tenants)
Required Notice 30 Days

Does Washington D.C. Have Rent Control Laws?

In Washington D.C., some rental units are protected by rent control laws limiting the amount landlords may ask for.

The following types of housing are exempt  from the rent control laws:

  • Federally or District-subsidized units
  • Dwelling units built after 1975
  • Units owned by an individual who owns 4 or fewer units in Washington D.C.
  • Units that have been continuously vacant since January 1, 1985
  • Units under a building improvement plan receiving rehabilitation assistance through the Department of Housing and Community Development
  • Some cooperative housing

However, if a rental unit is not registered with the Rental Accommodations Division, it is automatically protected by rent control regardless of its eligibility for an exemption.

Read More

When Can a Landlord Raise Rent in Washington D.C.?

For rent-controlled units in Washington D.C., landlords can only raise the rent when:

  • Proper notice is given
  • The rental unit is registered with the Rental Accommodations Division
  • The rental unit is compliant with applicable regulations (unless the non-compliant condition was caused by the tenant’s negligence)
  • The housing provider is properly licensed and the manager is properly registered
  • There is a written lease agreement that establishes the rent charged
  • The rent hasn’t been increased within the past year

Tenants can file a petition if they believe their landlord violated the rent increase laws.


In Washington D.C., if the rental unit has been registered for an exemption from rent control, landlords can raise the rent for any reason as long as it is not discriminatory or retaliatory in nature and proper notice is given. 


When Can’t a Landlord Raise Rent in Washington D.C.?

Landlords in Washington D.C. may not raise the rent if:

  • It is during the middle of a lease’s fixed term (unless stated otherwise in the lease agreement).
  • The increase is applied in a way that discriminates against one of the protected classes specified in the Fair Housing Act.
  • It is done in response to a protected tenant action, such as filing a complaint. This is known as “retaliation .

In addition to the characteristics protected by federal law, the Washington D.C. Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination in housing due to personal appearance, enrollment in higher education, source of income, political affiliation, place of business, or eviction record.

How Often Can Rent Be Increased in Washington D.C.?

Landlords in Washington D.C. can increase the rent once per year .

However, if the rental unit is exempt from rent control, the landlord can increase the rent as often as they choose as long as they provide sufficient notice each time.

How Much Notice is Needed to Raise Rent in Washington D.C.?

In Washington D.C., landlords cannot raise the rent during a lease term and must give 30 days’ notice to increase the rent .

If the residence is protected by rent control, the Notice to Tenant of Rent Adjustment form must be used. Within 30 days after each rent increase, landlords must submit a Certificate of Rent Adjustment to the Rental Accommodations Division.

How Much Can a Landlord Raise Rent in Washington D.C.?

In Washington D.C., the maximum rent increase on a current tenant in a rent-controlled unit is 8.9% for 2023. However, if the tenant is disabled or 62 years old or older and has filed a registration of exemption, the maximum rent increase is 5% .


Low-income tenants who are disabled or 62 years old or older may qualify for an exemption from rent increases and surcharges .

Once a rental unit becomes vacant (at the fault of the tenant), the landlord can increase the current allowable rent once per year by up to:

  • 10% of the previous rent if the tenant lived there for 10 years or less.
  • 20% of the previous rent if the tenant lived there longer than 10 years.

Landlords can apply to exceed the rent increase limit in the following circumstances:

  • Services or Facilities – If a service or facility cost increases, a landlord may petition for an adjustment in the rent cost.
  • Substantial Rehabilitation – The rehabilitation cost must be equal to or more than 50% of the real property tax assessment of the rental unit.
  • Hardship – Landlords may file a petition if they are not making at least a 12% return on their rental unit.
  • Capital improvement – A landlord may petition to increase the rent amount to cover the cost of renovations, repairs, maintenance, or depreciable improvements.
  • Voluntary Agreement – Tenants may enter into a voluntary agreement with the landlord. Together they determine the rent, capital improvements, services, facilities, repairs, and maintenance. 70% of the tenants must agree to the terms.

If the unit is registered for an exemption, landlords can raise the rent by any amount and for any reason as long as they give proper notice, don’t do so during the fixed term of a lease, and aren’t doing so for certain discriminatory or retaliatory reasons.