Evicting a tenant is never a pleasant experience, and in the District of Columbia there are some unique aspects of the eviction process, the process of removing the tenant and their belongings once the court has declared a Writ of Restitution. A Writ of Restitution is the court order to have the tenant move out and return possession to the landlord. Most landlords will agree that evictions are expensive and time consuming, so make every effort to have a noncompliant tenant peacefully leave your property if at all possible.
Scheduling of evictions
Once it is determined by the court that a Writ of Restitution will be granted, the writ will be filed in Landlord and Tenants Court and the issued writ is forwarded to the U.S. Marshal’s office to schedule the eviction. In D.C. the filed writ expires in 75 days. The U.S. Marshal Service will schedule evictions by the date they come in and within the same quadrant of the District. Every weekday a schedule of evictions is posted in the office of the clerk of the Landlords and Tenants Court. Evictions will never be schedule for Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, or judicial training days.
Now we come to one of the more unusual aspects of scheduling evictions in D.C. An eviction cannot be scheduled for a day when the 24 hour forecast calls for a 50% or greater chance of precipitation OR if the forecast calls for temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 24 hours. For purposes of weather forecasts, the National Weather Service Forecast for the Ronald Reagan National Airport is used. Official forecasts are determined at 8:00 am each day.
If an eviction is canceled due to weather it will be rescheduled for the next available eviction date. If the writ expires the landlord must re-file for an Alias Writ and pay a new filing fee. Priority is given in the eviction scheduling process to writs that are about to expire or Alias Writs.
The U.S. Marshals Service notifies the landlord or property manager at least one business day before the scheduling of their writ. The landlord can refuse the time provided, but only two additional scheduling attempts are allowed. It’s important to be on time for a scheduled eviction, since the U.S. Marshals Service will only wait 10 minutes for the landlord or a designated representative to be present.
The landlord's responsibilities
While the U.S. Marshals Service will execute the writ, the landlord or a designated representative has the majority of responsibility. Specifically, the landlord is responsible for the following:
- Being present during eviction.
- Giving accurate contact information on the writ.
- Ensuring the address for the property matches the address exactly as on the writ.
- Provide any special equipment or services necessary to accomplish the eviction, such as arranging for a locksmith to gain entry, equipment to move tenant’s property.
- Making sure that entry can be made in a reasonable amount of time.
- Hiring the manpower for the eviction. The U.S. Marshals Service requires the following minimum manpower to serve as an eviction crew: House - 25 persons; 1 bedroom apartment - 10 persons; 2 bedroom apartment - 15 persons; 3 bedroom apartment - 20 persons.
- Providing enough supplies such as plastic bags or boxes to contain small items removed from the property. The U.S. Marshals Service will not provide supplies to the landlord.
- Removing any food, chemicals, etc. and anything considered trash from the property, or arrange to have them removed once the eviction is complete.
- Pay the U.S. Marshals Service for executing the writ. The rate is $165/hour or any fraction thereof.
In addition, tenants cannot be evicted or asked to move just because the Agreement Term expires. D.C. Code § 42-3505.01 states that, “Except as provided in this section, no tenant shall be evicted from a rental unit, notwithstanding the expiration of the tenant's lease or rental agreement, so long as the tenant continues to pay the rent to which the housing provider is entitled for the rental unit”. This means that unless the tenant voluntarily moves out of the rental at the end of the Agreement Term or you, the landlord, have a cause for action against the tenant, the tenant cannot be evicted or asked to move out for the sole reason that the Agreement Term has ended; provided that they continue to pay rent.