Tips

Policy Regarding Properties of Concern

As part of Georgetown University’s continuous proactive efforts to maintaining the high quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding campus, the University has adopted the following policy:

  • GU’s Office of Neighborhood Life will send written notification to the landlord, property manager and/or owner of an off-campus residence upon the receipt of a credible report of conditions or incidents that may have a negative impact on safety or quality of life. Examples of conditions or incidents that will result in notification include, but are not limited to, poor property or lawn maintenance, trash and/or recycling disposal violations, noise issues, and other conduct matters impacting quality of life or safety that involve one or more of the student tenants. Notification will be made, if reports are determined to be credible, by the Office of Neighborhood Life staff.
  • The complaints will accrue over a two-year period. When three credible complaints are made regarding a particular residence, Georgetown University will add the property to its list of properties of concern from the date of the last incident for a period of one year.
  • Once a residence has been added to the University’s properties of concern list, the Office of Neighborhood Life will notify the landlord, property manager and/or owner that the property has been added to this list. A property will remain on the list for one calendar year and removed from the list only if there have been no further credible complaints received during that year.
  • The list of properties of concern is viewable on the Student Living Off Campus web site. Properties that appear on the properties of concern may not be listed or advertised on the Off Campus Listing website, and may not re-list on the listing site until they are no longer on the properties of concern list.
  • In addition, Office of Neighborhood Life will send notification at the beginning of a new academic year to the tenants of any property on the properties of concern list, making them aware that their property has been placed on the properties of concern list, informing them of the history of ongoing issues with the residence, and advising them of the University’s concerns and intention to hold students and landlords accountable for property maintenance issues and for behavior in the community.

The Leasing Process

The following points should be covered in the lease:
  • Names and addresses of landlord and tenant(s).
  • Description of the property being rented.
  • The number of people allowed living in the unit. (DC law prohibits occupancy by more than six unrelated persons.)
  • Dates covered by the lease, when and if the lease can be renewed, and when and how the lease can be ended.
  • If the lease is terminated early, is there a penalty?
  • Can the tenant sublet?
  • What is the amount of the rent and when is it due? Is there any grace period if not paid on this date? Is there a penalty for late payment?
  • When can the rent be increased?
  • Are utilities included in the rent? If some are included, they should be specified.
  • Who is responsible for maintenance and repairs? How will these costs be handled?
  • Is extermination part of the maintenance? How often will it be done? Who will pay for it?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • If the accommodation is furnished, a list of the furniture and its condition should be included in the lease. who is responsible for the furnishings in case of fire or theft?
  • Who has the right of entry to the rental unit?
  • Is a security deposit required? If so, how much? When and under what conditions will it be returned? See section on Security Deposits for additional information.
  • If renting a room within a house, what areas may the tenant use and when? Are there any kitchen restrictions? What are the guest policies?
Other Items

Always be sure to give a copy of the signed lease to the tenant(s).

Illegal Lease Clauses: When a lease clause violates a law or denies a tenant a right provided by local law, the clause has no legal effect.

"Tenant will pay all attorney and court fees" - The judge decides who pays the court costs. Tenants rarely have to pay their landlord's attorney fees.

"Waiver of liability" - A lease cannot limit the landlord's financial responsibility if a tenant or guest is injured because of the landlord's negligence or failure to make repairs.

"Waiver of warranty of habitability or duty to repair" - The court will not enforce a clause that requires the tenant to make repairs of housing code violations. It is the landlord's responsibility.

"Tenant waives the right to a jury trial" -When faced with eviction, a tenant has the right to a trial by jury or judge. This right cannot be waived by a lease.

Housing Capacity: DC Zoning Regulations control the use of properties within the District of Columbia. Currently, not more than six (6) unrelated persons may occupy a single-family house. Other buildings, for example, rooming and boarding houses, may be permitted to house more than six unrelated individuals if the owner has obtained a Certificate of Occupancy allowing more occupants. If you plan to rent an apartment or room in a building with more than six unrelated occupants, make sure there is a Certificate of Occupancy permitting the use before you sign the lease. Violations of the DC Zoning Regulations are subject to enforcement action as well as fines.