Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in District of Columbia

My DC landlord has not returned half of my security deposit. Half was promised at moveout and half after final bills settled within 3-4 weeks. He didnt send anything at 3-4 weeks, so I sent a reminder by text. He promised within a week. Again nothing, so I sent another text. He promised "soon". Three weeks after that and still nothing. I sent a third reminder, and he said after he gets back from vacation. It's been about 90 days since moveout. I'm not understanding this section of the law I looked up:

311.2 Interest on an escrow account shall be due and payable by the owner to the tenant upon termination of any tenancy of a duration of twelve (12) months or more, unless an amount is deducted under procedures set forth in paragraph (2) (14 DCMR 309.1 and 309.2). Any housing provider violating the provisions of this section by failing to pay interest on a security deposit escrow account that is rightfully owed to a tenant in accordance with the requirements of this section, shall be liable to the Rent Administrator or Rental Housing Commission, as applicable, for the amount of the interest owed, or in the event of bad faith, for treble that amount. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term "bad faith" means any frivolous or unfounded refusal to return a security deposit, as required by law, that is motivated by a fraudulent, deceptive, misleading, dishonest, or unreasonably self-serving purpose and not by simple negligence, bad judgment, or an honest belief in the course of action taken. Any housing provider who willfully violates the provisions of this section by failing to pay interest on a security deposit escrow account that is rightfully owed to a tenant in accordance with the requirements of this section shall be subject to a civil fine of not more than $ 5000 for each violation.

Does this qualify as "bad faith" or "simple negligence"? And if it is bad faith, is it treble the interest or treble the witheld amount?


Asked on 8/05/11, 9:57 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Paula McGill Paula McGill Attorney at Law

Based upon the evidence, the fact finder will determine if it is simple negligence or bad faith.

Of course, he will probably defend against your allegations. Nevertheless, based upon the facts you provided, it appears that it's negligence.

Paula J. McGill

1425 K Street, NW

Suite 350

Washington, DC 20005

(202)294-0435

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Answered on 8/06/11, 10:48 pm


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