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District of Columbia Security Deposit Laws

Washington, D.C. has long been considered one of the priciest cities to rent an apartment. While monthly rent may be the biggest concern for most apartment shoppers, the initial costs of a security deposit may break the bank for some of these potential District of Columbia tenants. The district's security deposit laws limit how much landlords can charge and how they must handle your money once they have it. This is a quick summary of the security deposit laws in the District of Columbia.

District of Columbia Security Deposit Laws at a Glance

Under D.C.'s security deposit laws, "security deposit" means all money paid to the landlord by the tenant as a deposit for performance of the tenant's obligations in a lease or rental of the property. The following table outlines the specifics of the District of Columbia's security deposit laws.

Code Sections

14 District of Columbia Municipal Regulations §§ 308-311

Security Deposit Limits

According to Washington, D.C. security deposit laws, any security deposit in a lease or rental must not exceed an amount equivalent to the first full month's rent charged to that tenant for the dwelling unit. This can be charged only once by the owner to the tenant.

Security Deposit Held in Escrow

All money paid to a landlord by tenants for security deposits must be deposited by the landlord in an interest bearing escrow account held in trust in a financial institution within 30 days of payment.

Returning Security Deposit

D.C. security deposit laws state that within 45 days after the termination of a tenancy, the landlord must do one of the following:

  • Tender payment of any security deposit to the tenant, without demand, and any interest due the tenant on that deposit; or
  • Notify the tenant in writing of the landlord's intention to withhold and apply the money toward the cost of expenses properly incurred under the terms and conditions of the security deposit agreement. This notice must be delivered to the tenant personally or by certified mail at the tenant's last known address.

Deductions of Security Deposit

In order to determine the amount of the security deposit to be returned to the tenant, the landlord may inspect the rental unit within three days (not including weekends or holidays) before or after the termination of the tenancy.

The landlord must notify the tenant in writing of the time and date of the inspection. The notice of inspection must be delivered to the tenant at least 10 days before the date of the inspection. The landlord must conduct the inspection at the time and place that notice is given to the tenant.

If you believe that your security deposit rights have been violated and wish to seek further legal assistance, FindLaw can help you find a District of Columbia landlord/tenant attorney. Explore FindLaw to learn more about your security deposit and your landlord/tenant rights.

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