DC’s Rent Relief Grant for Landlords

A new D.C. program is using money from the federal CARES Act which will focus on affordable units and small landlords with 20 or fewer units.

The program will cover missed payments between April and November.
The majority of the grant money — $9 million — will go toward affordable housing projects in the District. The remaining $1 million is set aside for small landlords.

The city plans to cover 80% of a tenant’s rent arrears, up to $2,000 a month, if the landlord forgives the remaining 20%. As many as 30,000 units in 274 affordable projects could be eligible for the grants, according to Christopher Donald, the interim director of the D.C. Housing Finance Agency.

On Monday, Bowser also announced the city was adding another $4 million to the Coronavirus Housing Assistance Program, bringing its total funding to $10.2 million. Landlords will be able to apply for this funding on behalf of their tenants as of January.

Since earlier this spring, the Landlord Tenant Courts have been closed, and landlords are not able to file complaints until the public health emergency has expired.  As a result many landlords have not been receiving their full rent, but are required to maintain the properties in good living conditions for their tenants.  Additionally the landlords still have to maintain their mortgage payments and can only defer them for so much.

“This pandemic has forced an unprecedented and disproportionate financial burden on our low-income renters, through no fault of their own,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement Monday. “By allowing housing providers to apply for assistance on behalf of tenants, we can provide swifter relief.”

The program comes as welcome news for small landlords. Dean Hunter, who heads the Small Multifamily Owners Association, a newly formed trade group that advocated for the new grant program, says they’re a “step in the right direction.”

“We heard the District’s small housing providers, loud and clear,” said Polly Donaldson, the director of D.C.’s Department of Housing and Community Development, in a statement. “They want to be able to apply for assistance on behalf of their tenants, and now they can.”

To apply for the grant, landlords must provide the following documents:

Basic Business License

2019 1040, Schedule E showing the real estate income

D-30 – DC income tax for 2019

Proof of ownership

Clean Hands Certification


In addition, the landlord must make the following certifications:

  • Within ten (10) days of receiving 80% of the eligible rent arrears of each eligible impacted tenant or co-op member in this application, I agree to absolve each eligible tenant or co-op member of all arrears  (including penalties and fees) from April 1, 2020 through November 30, 2020.
  • I will provide each impacted tenant or co-op member a letter stating that their arrears have been absolved by certified mail or in-person (proven with a photograph).
  • I attest that all property taxes on buildings associated with any tenant or co-op member named in this application are paid and up to date.
  • I attest that I have not received and do not expect to receive rent or operating assistance from any other District of Columbia or Federal government source for the rent and other housing costs for any tenants or co-op members listed in this application.
  • I attest that I, my spouse, and any of the partners, majority owners, or shareholders of a Cooperative together, individually or collectively, own no more than twenty (20) units of residential rental housing in the District of Columbia.
  • I attest that there are no pending DCRA enforcement actions against the properties listed in this application.
  • I attest that the properties listed in this application are covered by property and liability insurance.
  • I attest that I/the Cooperative am not debarred or otherwise ineligible to do business with the District of Columbia government.
  • I attest that I/the Cooperative owe no outstanding taxes to the District government.
  • I attest that the property is operated in compliance with all fair housing laws and the DC Human Rights Act.
  • I attest that I/the Cooperative have no conflict of interest that would prohibit receipt of this financial assistance.

The unit has to be occupied continuously by the same tenant from March 1, 2020 to the application date. Home-shared, seasonal or vacation rentals are not allowed. 

The landlord is required to document tenants’ or co-op members’ inability to pay rent due to COVID-19. To expedite funding, this document is not required with the application. If approved, DHCD will provide a template letter to have tenants or co-op members sign.

DHCD will also accept a signed letter or email from the tenant or co-op member that cites the reason that they’re currently unable to pay their rent or co-op carrying costs in full, due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic that have reduced their income or increased their expenses. 

Applications for the Housing Stabilization Grants opened Tuesday and will close on Dec. 11.

Please direct any questions to SHPP.DHCD@dc.gov

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