Washington D.C. Residential Lease Agreement

Last Updated: July 15, 2022 by Elizabeth Souza

The Washington D.C. residential lease agreement (“rental agreement”) is a legally binding document between a property owner (“landlord”) and occupant (“tenant”) to lease real property in exchange for a fee. The contract ensures that the tenant will pay a monthly fee in exchange for access to a livable property.

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Washington D.C. Lease Agreement Disclosures

The below disclosures are required for some or all residential lease agreements in Washington D.C.

Disclosure Applicable to
Tenant’s Bill of Rights All Units
RAD Form 3 (Applicant Disclosure Form) All Units in a Housing Accommodation
RAD Form 5 (Notice of Disclosure Forms) All Units
Rent Control/Exemption Status All Units in a Housing Accommodation
Mold Disclosure All Units with History of Mold
Voter Registration Packet All Units
Lead Paint Built Prior to 1978

Tenant’s Bill of Rights

Applicable to all rental units in Washington D.C.

Landlords shall distribute a copy of the Tenant Bill of Rights published by the Office of the Tenant Advocate to every tenant. This Bill of Rights outlines the basic rights of tenancy in Washington D.C.

Download: Washington D.C. Tenant Bill of Rights (PDF)

RAD Form 3 (Applicant Disclosure Form)

Applicable to anyone filing an application to a lease in Washington D.C.

When a prospective tenant files an application to lease a rental unit, the housing provider must provide a disclosure published by the Rent Administrator. A housing provider must make the following disclosures (also known as RAD Form 3) to any individual filing an application to lease a rental unit in a Housing Accommodation.  The form must be completed in full and signed by the applicant and housing provider and includes the below mandatory disclosures:

  • Building Conditions – Landlords shall provide all copies of housing code and property maintenance code violation reports. These reports are issued by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs for violations within the last 12 months, or previously issued reports for violations which have but not been abated.
  • Surcharges and Rent Increases- Landlords shall disclose any surcharges on rent for the rental unit, including capital improvement surcharges and the expiration date of those surcharges. Upon a tenant’s request once per year, the landlord must also disclose the amount of, and the basis for, each rent increase for the prior three years.
  • Refundable and Nonrefundable Fees – If a one-time, nonrefundable fee is charged in the rental agreement for pets, access to amenities, or other expenses, it must be stated as “nonrefundable” in the agreement. Otherwise, the fees are subject to a refund upon termination of the lease. Washington D.C. landlords shall charge no more than 5% of rent and reflect the actual expenses incurred by the landlord as a result of a late payment. Washington D.C. has a five-day grace period to pay rent, tenants may be charged only after the agreed upon due date for rent, dictated in the lease.
  • Condominium Conversion – Applicable to any housing accommodation registered or in the process of converting to a condominium. The landlord shall disclose if dwelling unit is registered as, or in the process of converting to, a condominium or cooperative or a use that is not a housing accommodation.
  • Disclosure of Ownership and Business License Information – A landlord shall file a registration statement with the Rent Administrator for each housing accommodation in the District of Columbia for which the landlord is receiving rent or is entitled to receive rent. The landlord shall provide the disclosure of ownership information to the tenant. The landlord must also disclose their business license information to rent out their residential property.

Download: Washington D.C. RAD Form 3 (PDF)

Rad Form 5 (Notice of Disclosure Forms)

Applicable to all rental units in Washington D.C.

In accordance with the provisions of the Rental Housing Act of 1985, this form contains information and documents on each Rental Unit. The contents of the form shall be updated within 30 days of any change. This form be completed in full and signed by the housing provider and a copy of the form shall be provided to the tenant.

Download: Washington D.C. RAD Form 5 (PDF)

Rent Control/Exemption Status

Applicable to all housing accommodations, which include apartment buildings and apartment complexes in Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. is one of the few states that has rent control. Rent control is an important factor as it helps keep housing costs low for tenants by allowing the government to limit the amount of money a landlord can charge for rent. Washington D.C. landlords must provide their tenants with this pamphlet to help them understand the rent control laws and regulations.

Landlords must disclose if the property is rent-controlled or has an exempt status of the housing accommodation, its business license, and a copy of the registration or claim of exemption together with the most recent notice filed.

Download: Washington D.C. Rent Control Fact Sheet (PDF)

Mold Disclosure

Applicable to all rental units. with a history of mold in Washington D.C.

This disclosure requires landlords to inform tenants of the history of known presence of indoor mold contamination in the rental unit or within the common areas of the premises in the past three years. If remediation has been completed by a professional remediation company that is licensed and certified in the District of Columbia, proof of completion should be given to the tenant.

Voter Registration Packet

Applicable to all rental units in Washington D.C.

The disclosure form published by the Rent Administrator shall include the voter registration packet developed by the District of Columbia Board of Elections.

The voter registration packet includes:

  • A voter registration application.
  • Online voter registration, updating a voter’s address.
  • Voting rights in Washington D.C. of individuals with criminal records.
  • Voter registration information for high school and college student.
  • A weblink to the Board’s website where the tenant can find the date of the next scheduled election.
  • Polling place locations.
  • The names and positions of current elected officials in the District of Columbia.

Download: Washington D.C. Voter Registration Packet (PDF)

Lead-Based Paint Disclosure

Applicable to any rental units built prior to 1978.

It is a federal law in the United States that any home built prior to 1978 must disclose the risks posed by lead-based paints. This law requires landlords in Washington D.C. to:

DownloadWashington D.C. Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Form (PDF)

The following lease agreement disclosures and addendums are not required by Washington D.C. law. These disclosures can be helpful to include to help reduce future conflicts with tenants or reduce legal liability for landlords.

Optional Disclosure How the Disclosure is Helpful
Asbestos This disclosure informs tenants if there is asbestos at the property. If there is asbestos a tenant can take certain precautions to minimize the chance of disturbing the asbestos fibers.
Bed Bugs If the rental unit has a history of infestation, landlords should provide information on how to handle a bed bug infestation. This disclosure notifies the tenant of their obligation to cooperate with bed bug prevention and immediately report any sign of infestation to the landlord.
Landlord’s Name & Address Creates a line of communication for important notices and demands between tenant and landlord. Landlords or any authorized individual to act on behalf of the property should provide contact information (including their address) within or alongside the lease.
Medical Marijuana Use Inform tenants if medical marijuana use on the property is permittable. Some state laws allow landlords to restrict marijuana usage to non-smoking methods only or inform tenants of designated smoking areas to not interfere with other tenants’ enjoyment of the premises.
Move-in Checklist A move-in checklist holds the tenant accountable for future damages that they may cause.
Shared Utilities Arrangements For rental units with shared utilities, a landlord should disclose the specifics of how they are shared, and how each party’s bill is calculated. Providing this information to tenants will give them a reasonable expectation of what they owe each month.
Smoking Inform tenants of designated smoking areas to not interfere with other tenants’ enjoyment of the premises.

Consequences of Not Including Mandatory Disclosures

Disclosures outline the important health, safety, and property information and vary by state. If a landlord does not provide the tenant with the federally or state-mandated disclosures, they could face legal repercussions or monetary penalties.

If a landlord fails to disclose the lead-based paint hazard disclosure, they can face fines of up to $18,364 per violation. (24 CFR § 30.65)

It’s best to check with your local and state laws on which disclosures you must provide to your tenant.