Housing Law

Maria Johnson

Former client Maria Johnson (name changed for confidentiality) with her Legal Aid DC attorney, Rais Akbar

Keeping families in safe, affordable housing is at the core of our housing law practice. Legal Aid DC serves tenants facing legal challenges that, without support from an attorney, could leave them without stable housing. 

Legal Aid DC represents clients on housing matters including: 

  • Eviction: We represent clients in the Landlord and Tenant Branch of the D.C. Superior Court to prevent eviction and help find solutions to maintaining their housing
  • Housing subsidies: We serve clients who are at risk of losing a DC Housing Authority (DCHA) voucher 
  • Housing conditions: We assist clients living in unhealthy and unsafe housing conditions by representing them in affirmative lawsuits to obtain emergency repairs
  • Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA): We work with tenant associations to exercise their rights under TOPA when a building is being sold and address rent control matters
  • Rent increases: We assist clients in challenging unlawful rent increases

Where We Work

In addition to our regular intake locations, Legal Aid DC housing attorneys are on-site at D.C. Superior Court on Mondays and Wednesdays to provide same-day assistance and limited representation. 

Legal Aid DC also staffs the Landlord Tenant Legal Assistance Network Hotline alongside several other organizations.

Systemic Advocacy

For many years, Legal Aid DC has worked with other nonprofits and legal service providers to advocate for policies that benefit low-income tenants across the District. For example, in 2010, we advocated for the creation of the Housing Conditions Calendar, which helps tenants living in poor housing conditions bring repair claims to court more quickly.

More recently, in 2023 we relaunched the Housing Right to Counsel Project, which began in 2012 in collaboration with Bread for the CityLegal Counsel for the Elderly, and the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center. The project is coalition of legal service providers, now including the Neighborhood Legal Services Program and Rising for Justice, and 20 law firms that together aim to ensure that low-income residents with housing subsidies who are facing eviction can access free legal representation.

Resources for Renters

Rental Housing FAQ

Do you have questions about rental housing? Find answers to common questions here.

Security Deposit Packet

Do you want to know more about your rights to your security deposit?

Breaking your Lease Early if you experienced Domestic Violence

If you have experienced domestic violence, you may be able to break your lease early. Find out more and get a sample letter to send to your landlord here.

Breaking your Lease Early if you have a Protection Order

Do you have a Civil Protection Order and want to move? You may be able to break your lease early. Find out more and get a sample letter to send to your landlord here.

Tenant Toolkit

Do you want to learn more about your rights and legal options as a tenant?

Housing Conditions Handbook

Do you need your landlord to make repairs? Learn how to sue them in housing conditions court.

Rental and Utility Assistance

Do you need help paying rent or utilities? Know more about D.C.’s rental assistance programs.

Resources for Homeowners

Ways to Keep Your Home

Are you behind on your mortgage or is there a foreclosure case against you? Explore options for how you can keep your home.

Ways to Let Go of Your Property

Can you no longer afford to keep your home? Let go of your home while protecting the rest of your money.

Foreclosure FAQs

This document provides information about what to do if you are struggling to pay your mortgage or worried about foreclosure.