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DC Tenant Rights | Rent Negotiations, Tenant Associations

Illustration about the importance of learning your rent rights
May 10, 2018 Washington DC

Tenants in Washington, D.C. can push for better maintenance, fight rent increases, and work to resolve other building issues by forming a tenant organization with other residents. Under the Tenant Right to Organize Act , tenants can form an organization to protect their rights and improve their ability to negotiate with the landlord.

Tenant Associations

To form a tenant association, tenants can gauge interest among the other tenants who share the building or tenants who are renting properties from the same landlord in the neighborhood. The process of forming an association is relatively easy, according to the D.C. Tenant’s Advocacy Coalition, which offers help, information, and a step-by-step guide for forming associations in D.C. First steps include a vote to form the association and the election of officers. The coalition suggests that associations incorporate as a nonprofit, but it is not a requirement.

Association will establish a unified position prior to negotiating with a landlord and should have organizational bylaws to determine the rules for membership, elections, and decision-making.

The Tenant Right to Organize Act

The Tenant Right to Organize (TRO) Act protects the right of tenants in the District of Columbia to organize into associations, requires landlords and their agents to acknowledge tenant groups, and mandates that the landlord considers an association’s requests.

In addition, the TRO Act gives tenants the right to participate in association activities in their own building. This includes the right to post information about tenant group meetings in public spaces, distribute literature regarding tenant issues, and hold association meetings. Tenants can also work with an organizer who is not affiliated with a landlord or a property manager to establish and run a tenant group.

The law also bars landlords from interfering with tenants seeking to form an association, meet, or plan to address an issue such as proposed rent increases.

Familiarity with the TRO can help landlords and tenants maintain positive (and legal) landlord-tenant relations.
For more information about the formation of tenant organizations in Washington D.C., you can look at the following links:

  1. D.C. Tenant Survival Guide
  2. D.C. Tenants Advocacy Coalition (TENAC)


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