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June 22, 2020

Stroock Special Bulletin

By: Jeffrey R. Keitelman, Kim Pagotto, Lauren K. Swanson

On May 27, we released a bulletin regarding the DC City Council’s adoption of additional COVID-19 emergency legislation that was intended to consolidate and clarify the Council’s previously enacted April 23 legislation. Additional clarifying amendments were adopted during the Council’s most recent legislative hearing, and this bulletin describes those amendments.  

The Coronavirus Support Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (the “Amendment”) is intended to amend, on an emergency basis, the Coronavirus Support Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 and certain other laws to clarify several provisions, including those relating to tenant payment plans and commercial rent increases during the public health emergency. The Amendment has been passed by the Council and will be enacted following signature by the Mayor. 

Tenant Payment Plans

The Amendment stipulates that rent payment plans must apply to the payment of gross rent “and any other amounts that come due under the lease” [emphasis added] during the program period and prior to the cessation of the tenancy. The Amendment also revises the definition of “eligible tenant” to mean a tenant that: (1) has notified the landlord of an inability to pay all or a portion of the rent due as a result of the public health emergency; (2) is not a franchisee, unless the franchise is owned by a District resident; and (3) has leased from a provider: (a) a residential property; (b) commercial retail space; or (c) commercial space that is less than 6,500 square feet in size and that comprises all or part of a commercial building. This language expands the total relief to all rent and other amounts due under the Lease and extends the Tenant Payment Plan requirement to include commercial office tenants that occupy less than 6,500 square feet.

Commercial Rent Increases

The Amendment clarifies that any increase of rent on a commercial property made by a landlord between March 11, 2020, and June 9, 2020, shall be null and void and that any excess rent paid by a tenant shall be credited to the tenant. As we previously highlighted, the rent increase freeze is in effect for the duration of the public health emergency and for 30 days thereafter, and with respect to commercial tenants, applies to: (1) commercial retail establishments; and (2) leased commercial space that is less than 6,500 square feet in size and that comprises all or part of a commercial building.

We will continue to monitor legislative changes going forward.  Please contact any of the authors below for more information.

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For More Information

Jeff Keitelman

Kim Pagotto

Lauren K. Swanson

This Stroock publication offers general information and should not be taken or used as legal advice for specific situations, which depend on the evaluation of precise factual circumstances. Please note that Stroock does not undertake to update its publications after their publication date to reflect subsequent developments. This Stroock publication may contain attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.