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More Information About Renting In The District

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Curbed University delivers insider tips and non-boring advice on how to buy, sell, or rent a home or apartment. Additional questions welcomed to dc@curbed.com.

Can the landlord put my rent up as high as he or she wants?
Not really. The law about rent increases states that “an automatic rent increase will be at least the CPI percentage plus 2 percentage but no more than 10% higher than the previous rent charged”. The rules are different for rent controlled units (for that see the details on the website), but typically your rent can’t skyrocket from one year to the next. The landlord also has to give you thirty days notice of the increase. But most of the time they give you more or it is already in the lease. They’re only allowed to put the rent up once every twelve months, even if you signed an original lease for less time.

What is the difference between a condo and an apartment?
They might look exactly the same, and there can even be both in the same building, but apartments are rental units and condos are units that an individual owns.

What are the extra fees that come along with renting?
Besides the monthly rent and the security deposit a tenant can be asked to pay extra for things like parking, amenities, move-in fees, lock changes and, of course, utilities. The first three are more common for people who rent in apartment buildings as opposed to shared houses. Apartment buildings may also charge an application fee. Partial utilities can sometimes be included in the rent.

Property managers?
Property managers, if there are any for the property, are usually the tenants only point of contact for any issues that come up. They are who you call if the pipes burst in the middle of the night and water comes flooding down the walls. Keep in mind these people work for the landlords. So even though they are supposed to be there to help tenants, they probably won’t do anything that will get their boss (the landlord) mad at them. That includes paying for repairs that could be argued are the fault of you, the tenant. Another point is that they typically get a bonus when they find a new tenant for a unit, so it is in their best interest for you to move out once your lease is up. They can put the rent up (which makes the landlord happy) and they receive something extra in return.

What about parking?
If you don’t have DC tags and registration you aren’t allowed to park overnight on the street for more than a few weeks. Typically you will get a warning first saying that your car has been registered as being parked over night more than twice in a certain time period and you have to get a DC registration. There are exceptions for people who are in school or on a temporary employment basis, but in order to avoid a ticket those drivers still have to deal with getting a special sticker for their car. Dealing with the DMV in DC is one of the more traumatic experiences a person can have in life and many renters chose a house that has a driveway or parking lot so they don’t have to change their registration to DC.

Rental Accommodations and Conversion Division (RACD) of the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.