In March 2022, the Washington D.C. Council approved an act barring landlords from filing eviction lawsuits against tenants who owe less than $600 in back rent. This puts a limit on when evictions can be used for nonpayment of rent. Like ‘just cause’ or ‘good cause’ standards, it’s a policy that limits when a landlord can file for an eviction.
The motivation is to prevent a modest amount of back-rent from leading to a forced displacement, court record, and adversarial eviction process. The eviction system should also not be used a rent-collection process, because of the many collateral consequences that parties suffer once the problem escalates into the court system. Rather, the eviction process should be reserved for more substantial amounts of unpaid rent.
The legislation is officially called the Eviction Record Sealing Authority and Fairness in Renting Amendment Act of 2022. Once the mayor approves it, it will become a law.
Read more on the leadup to this law from the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. The local news site the DCist has more details.