The Department of Buildings (DOB) is mandated to ensure public health, safety, and welfare by enforcing property maintenance codes on all residential and non-residential structures in the District of Columbia, excluding federal government buildings.
DOB enforces the minimum requirement for premises, structures, equipment, and facilities for light, ventilation, space, heating, sanitation, protection from the elements, life safety, safety from fire and other hazards, and for safe and sanitary maintenance.
Interior of Property
Bathrooms: A bathroom must be private and have natural or mechanical ventilation. It must have a bathtub or shower, water closet, lavatory with hot water with a minimum temperature of 110° F), and cold running water. It must also have a waterproof floor and wall base.
Air Conditioning (A/C): The A/C system shall be maintained during the period no later than May 15 and ending no earlier than September 15. The inside temperature in rooms that the A/C system is intended to serve shall equal the greater of 78° F or at least 15° F less than the outside temperature.
Rodents: All rental dwellings must be free of insects and rodents.
Cleanliness: Dwellings shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition.
Doors: All doors’ hardware and operating systems shall be maintained in good condition. All doors accessing the dwelling shall be equipped with a deadbolt lock without the use of a key or special knowledge for use from inside of the dwelling.
Electricity: Every habitable space in a dwelling shall contain at least two separate and remote-receptacle outlets. Every laundry area and bathroom shall contain at least one ground-type receptacle or a receptacle with a ground-fault-circuit interrupter.
Fires Safety Condominiums and Apartment Buildings: Shall have lighted fire-exit signs, fire extinguishers, and a fire-alarm system.
Fire Safety for All Units: Smoke detectors are required in every sleeping room, on every level, and in the vicinity of all sleeping rooms. Carbon monoxide detectors are required in the vicinity of all sleeping rooms where there is a fuel-burning appliance or in a building that has an attached garage.
Bars on windows in sleeping rooms shall be releasable or removable from the inside of the room without the use of a key, tool, or force greater than that which is required for normal operation of the window.
No Utilities: It is a code violation for a dwelling lacking utilities (water, gas, and electricity) to be occupied.
Floors: Floors shall be in good repair and maintained free from hazardous conditions.
Heat: Heating equipment shall maintain a temperature of not less than 68° F in all habitable rooms and bathrooms between October 1 and May 1. With a two-pipe system, or any other system reasonably requiring more than 15 days to transition from air-conditioning to heat, the heat shall be supplied during a period starting no later than October 15 and ending no earlier than May 1.
Hot Water: Water-heating facilities shall be properly installed, maintained, and capable of providing an adequate amount of water to be drawn at every lavatory, sink, bathtub, shower, and laundry facility. The minimum temperature of the water shall be 110° F as measured inside of the resident's unit.
Cooking Room: All facilities provided by the landlord for cooking, storage, or refrigeration of food must be maintained in a safe and good working condition. Any cooking-room sink must have cold water and hot water available at a minimum temperature of 110° F for running water.
Paint: Peeling, chipping, flaking, or abraded paint shall be repaired, removed, or covered on windows, window frames, doors, door-frame walls, and ceilings. Pre-1978 structures must be lead-free.
Interior Surfaces: All interior surfaces shall be maintained in good, clean, dry, and sanitary conditions. Cracks, loose plaster, holes, decayed wood, water damage, and other defective surfaces are not allowed.
Plumbing: All plumbing fixtures shall be properly installed and maintained, and shall be free from obstruction and leaks.
Privacy: Bathrooms and bedrooms must have privacy, and shall be separate from adjoining spaces. Such rooms shall be arranged so that occupants can access common space without going through another room.
Room area: Every bedroom shall contain no less than 70 square feet, and each bedroom occupied by more than one person shall contain no less than 50 square feet of floor area for each occupant thereof.
Stairs: Stairs shall be in good repair and maintained free from hazardous conditions.
Handrails and Guardrails: Interior flights of stairs having more than three risers shall have a handrail on one side of the stair and every open portion of the stair. Walking surfaces, more than 30 inches (762 mm) above the floor or grade below, shall have guards.
Windows: Windows must have screens from March 15 to November 15. Every window and skylight shall be kept in sound condition, in good repair, held in position by window hardware, easily openable, and weathertight.
Exterior of Property
Rodent Harborage: All structures and exterior property shall be kept free from rodent harborage and infestation.
Foundation Walls and Exterior Walls: Foundation walls and exterior walls shall be maintained plumb and free from open cracks and breaks.
Structural Members: Structural members shall be maintained free from deterioration and shall be capable of supporting the imposed dead and live loads.
Sanitation: The exterior of any structure and the outside property shall be maintained in a clean, safe, and sanitary condition.
Porches, Decks, Balconies, and Stairways: Porches, decks, balconies, and stairways shall be maintained structurally sound, in good repair with proper anchorage, and capable of supporting imposed loads.
Handrail and guardrails: Exterior and interior flights of stairs having more than three risers need a handrail. Guardrails shall be installed on balconies, porches, decks, ramps, and other walking surfaces. Walking surfaces, more than 30 inches (762 mm) above the floor or grade below, shall have guards.
Weeds: Properties shall be maintained free of weeds or plants growing in excess of 8 inches.
Roofs: Roof drains, gutters and downspouts shall be maintained in good repair and free from obstructions. Roof water shall not be discharged in a manner that creates a public nuisance. The roof and flashing shall be sound and tight and shall not have any defects that admit rain.
Trash: All structures and exterior properties shall be free from the accumulation of rubbish or garbage.
Sidewalks and Driveways: All sidewalks, driveways, walkways, parking spaces, and similar areas are to be maintained, free from hazardous conditions, and kept in a proper state of repair.
Wood Surfaces: All exterior wood surfaces including doors, door frames, windows, windows frames, trim, and fences shall be protected by covering or treatment. Peeling, chipping, and flaking paint shall be repainted. Pre-1978 structures must be lead-free.
Grading and Drainage: All premises shall be graded so that all storm drainage flows freely from all parts of the premises into an inlet or place of disposal.
Contact Email: [email protected]
Contact Phone: (202) 671-3500
Office Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm; Thursday 9:30am to 4:30pm