Screenshot of At-large Councilmember Elissa Silverman during the Sept. 22 D.C. Council session
Councilmember Elissa Silverman spoke at the Sept. 22 meeting. Screenshot courtesy of DCCouncil.us

The D.C. Council unanimously voted in a Sept. 22 session that landlords cannot issue notices telling tenants to vacate their units until the current eviction moratorium ends.

Landlords have not been able to file complaints seeking eviction or evict tenants since the council enacted the moratorium on March 17, lasting 60 days after the public health emergency declared in response to the coronavirus pandemic officially ends. However, landlords have continued to send residents eviction notices including a date by which the resident must vacate or fix the cause for eviction. These notices say landlords can or will file for evictions after that date. 

At-large Councilmember Anita Bonds and Ward 3 Councilmember Elissa Silverman introduced the emergency declaration resolution in response to the continued, invalid eviction notices. 

“These notices to vacate are currently unenforceable due to the eviction moratorium, but the point is that many tenants don’t know that,” Silverman said in her introduction of the bill. “They receive this notice form their landlord and decide eviction is inevitable so they might as well leave on their own.”

According to the text of the legislation, while these notices cannot be enforced, they have still led to residents moving out due to fear of future action or confusion about the current eviction policies. This can be especially common among immigrants, non-native English speakers, and undocumented renters, who are often the target of informal evictions.

Also on Sept. 22, the council unanimously passed a measure introduced by Council Chair Phil Mendelson granting Mayor Muriel Bowser the power to extend the COVID-19 public health emergency through Dec. 31 of this year. The emergency is currently set to expire Oct. 9. If Bowser does extend the emergency until the end of 2020, this would extend the eviction and eviction notices moratorium until the end of February 2021.