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So what do you do when you've rented an apartment to a Tenant and the Tenant has other people living there with them but you don't know if the Tenant is receiving money from them? In any event, however, you just want the other people out (and perhaps you wouldn't mind evicting the Tenant as well, but the priority is to get the other people out because you don't have a lease with them?

Should you sue the Tenant for illegally subletting? Assuming your lease prohibits this, this is one possibility. Keep in mind, however, that you will have to issue a 30-Day Notice to Correct or Vacate, then file a suit against the Tenant if they haven't voluntarily moved out after the 30-day period, the Tenant can deny it, get free legal advice in court, demand a jury trial, and drag the case on for about 8 months. What happens if the tenant decides to stop paying rent throughout this period?

Assuming your lease provides that the tenant is to be the only occupant of the apartment, you could also sue the Tenant for breach of lease based on the "unauthorized occupants". The 30-Day Notice will need to be issued and all the other considerations above will still apply.

Seem hopeless? It often does to my clients. The options for a small landlord in D.C. are relatively limited. That's why it is so important at the outset for Landlords to retain competent legal counsel who are familiar with how the system works and who can obtain the best result possible through collaborative strategic thinking, balanced negotiation and savvy litigation skills. Don't get stuck in a hopeless situation. There is a way out, and I welcome the opportunity to assist you.

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On Saturday, the Washington Post published this insightful article about the tragedy of the tax sale system in D.C. The article can be found here:

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