Q: Hello, I am a landlord in Washington DC and need advice on how to deal with my HOA and my tenant.
My tenant is renting via the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Lease started March 1, 2021. He pays rent on time, keeps unit clean and I haven't had any problems. The neighbors have complained about his noise levels and says he has become a nuisance, aggressive and harrassing. Board called a hearing to discuss problems with me & I asked for proof. They provided an expired Temporary Anti-Stalking Order from neighbor who moved out & 2 videos of my tenant as he was leaving unit where he shouts, "You all better leave me alone" Board sends me a letter stating 1.) Not to Renew Lease and 2.) Any further incidents Board recommends eviction and will fine me $500. I told them I will not renew his lease, however tenant states the neighbors are harassing him. In an email President of Board racially profiled my tenant from the beginning and asked me about his mental health. I would never ask my tenant any personal questions. Tenant case manager no help. What are my rights? Can they legal fine me?
A: I am a DC landlord/tenant lawyer. As long as the tenant is not violating his lease, you cannot evict him. The evidence you discuss is not sufficient to warrant eviction. As to whether or not they can fine you, that depends on what is in any agreement you have with the Board. You will likely have more problems if you try to evict him for insufficient reasons than you would if you did what the Board wanted.
A: I agree with Mr. Socci. This is a hard spot, and you are likely to experience the concept of a rock and a hard place if you attempt to evict or non-renew based on those facts in DC. I think you need to strategize to change the dynamic from you against the board to the board against the tenant. I think that starts with a review of the condo rules and the facts, a demand letter drafted by a qualified member of the Bar, and a more detailed review of the racial and mental health profiling involved. While I cannot be certain, I think this approach is likely to be immensely cheaper than kicking out a tenant where the lease isn't violated and fighting with a hostile condo board in DC where the courts often defer to condo democracy.
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