District of Columbia Landlord and Tenant Duties


While in your housing unit, the landlord is responsible for continuing to ensure that the unit is in safe and working condition. However, tenants have an important responsibility in helping to maintain the rental unit. This includes keeping walls, floors, ceilings, and windows clean and free of cobwebs, dirt, dust, greasy film, or any other unsanitary matter. Tenant responsibilities also include properly using and operating all electrical, gas, plumbing, heating fixtures and appliances.


Tenants can be and are issued Housing Violation Notices for unsanitary conditions. A landlord may request that an inspection be conducted to determine if a tenant is in violation. These requests require some evidence that unsanitary conditions do exists, such as foul odors coming from a tenant’s unit.

While occupying the rental unit, a tenant should continue to maintain a log of calls, letters, and discussions exchanged with the landlord or agent. When a problem arises, a tenant should follow the three steps previously outlined. Listed below is additional information tenants should know about the housing code and maintenance of the rental unit.

When air conditioning is provided as a part of the rent, the air conditioning systems shall be maintained in safe and good working condition.


A landlord is not required to “turn on” the air conditioning at a specific time of the year. The law requires that the system be in such condition that it provides an inside temperature at least fifteen (15) degrees Fahrenheit less than the outside temperature.

Whenever a heating facility is not under the control of the tenant or occupant, the landlord is responsible for providing a minimum temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. and 65 degrees Fahrenheit between 11:00 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.

If a tenant is renting a single family home, he or she is responsible for keeping the property free from vermin, rodents, and rodent harborage.

If you live in a two-family or multi-family dwelling, and more than one unit is found to be infested with vermin and/or roaches, it is the responsibility of the landlord to exterminate the property.

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