Living in Your Home
It’s exciting to finally find a home! Your ongoing responsibilities as a tenant are going to be easy if you make good behavior a habit, such as always paying your rent on time and keeping your front yard or porch tidy.
DC Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
With rights come responsibilities. No matter where you live, reading your lease and familiarizing yourself with your responsibilities before you sign is one of the most important things you can do to protect your rights as a tenant. Failure on the part of the tenants to be aware of their obligations as spelled out in the written lease does not release them from those obligations. Review your rights and responsibilities as a Washington, DC resident.
Know that the only legal reason your landlord can evict you without notice is if you fail to pay rent. However, there are other special circumstances regarding eviction and lease expiration, and the law varies by state.
All communication with your landlord should be recorded in writing. If you speak with your landlord on the phone or in person, always follow up with an email to him or her. This ensures that your communications have a date and timestamp. Should there ever be a disagreement with your landlord, or if you need to go to court, you will have documentation of all your and your landlord’s promises and agreements.
Important Phone Numbers
While living in your home, you should consider keeping different phone numbers easily accessible for everyone in your household. This is a non-exhaustive list of phone numbers you should keep readily available in the event of an emergency.
- Your landlord
Ask your landlord for this information
911 for emergencies, (202) 727-9099 for non emergencies
- Washington Gas
(703) 750-1400 or (800) 752-7520 for emergencies, (703) 750-7944 for non emergencies
(1-877) 737-2662 for emergencies, (202) 833-7500 for non emergencies
ONL strongly recommends that all students renting property purchase some form of renter’s insurance.
What You Should Know
- Your landlord’s policy does not cover any of your belongings. You must purchase renter’s insurance to cover losses if any of your possessions (such as your laptop, clothes or furniture) are lost due to theft or destruction.
- Basic renter’s insurance often includes protection for you in case someone is hurt in your home. Check with your insurance company, as policies and coverage differ.
- Check with your parents to find out whether you are covered under their insurance policy. Students are typically covered under their parents’ policy when living in campus housing but not covered when renting off campus in a privately owned property.
- Renter’s insurance is relatively inexpensive, considering the protection it provides for you. Most insurance providers offer free quotes for renter’s insurance online.
GU Student Responsibilities
We believe that living off campus is a privilege for students that offers an opportunity for learning and personal growth with many new responsibilities and opportunities. We expect students to be responsible citizens and good neighbors. All Georgetown students are expected to comply with University policies, including the Code of Student Conduct and University policies, local laws, and community standards of consideration for and kindness towards others.
All students, undergraduate and graduate, must adhere to the Code of Student Conduct, regardless of where they live.
The Hoya Living Guide is a guide for living well in the communities nearest campus.
Building Positive Relationships
We expect our students take responsibility for fostering good relationships with the other residents in their neighborhoods. A positive living experience starts with being a good neighbor, and that means being respectful of your neighbors’ needs and wants.
- Communicate – Being a good neighbor starts with getting to know your neighbors. Something as simple as saying hello goes a long way toward having a positive relationship. If there is a problem in the future, it’s easier to discuss it with someone you already know.
- Know Your Neighborhood Rules – For example, find out the rules regarding the proper disposal of trash, and find out the expectations about clearing sidewalks of snow and ice. Knowing the basic rules of the community goes a long way towards a positive experience.
- Maintain Your Property – Making sure that your property is well-kept shows your neighbors that you care about the neighborhood. Maintaining your property involves everything from mowing the lawn to shoveling snow to cleaning up trash.
- Be Considerate – Making too much noise is both a nuisance and against DC law.
- Be Mindful of Safety Concerns – If you observe suspicious activity in your neighborhood, report it to law enforcement authorities by calling 911. If you are helpful in keeping your neighbors’ property safe, they will do the same for you.
Social events at your home or activity on the street with excessive noise can lead to very serious consequences. After the first violation, a house can be placed on Disciplinary Probation 1 and Party Restriction for 6 weeks. Please read the sanction chart below to understand the differences between on- and off-campus noise violation consequences.
Issues related to noise and social events are also addressed by the Office of Student Conduct. If students are found to have violated the Code of Student Conduct, appropriate sanctions will be issued. The Code of Student Conduct states that
Off-campus noise violations are automatically considered “Disorderly Conduct,” consistent with the principle that excessive off-campus noise beyond a property line is likely disturbing to others or the Georgetown community. (pg 12)
Georgetown’s noise policy is in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Additionally, having parties, especially those that get out of hand, can cause friction with your neighbors.
DC’s law deems unreasonably loud noise as disorderly conduct, a criminal offense. The relevant law reads:
“It is unlawful for a person to make an unreasonably loud noise between 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM that is likely to annoy or disturb one of more persons in their residences. The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) will arrest individuals whom they determine are violating this law. The violation is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.” MPD can issue a 61D for violations of the noise at night law. The 61D is a ticket but also an official arrest.
Trash & Recycling
The University and city expects that you maintain your trash in a way that does not attract rats, block public space, or detract from the neighborhood.
In all neighborhoods…
- All trash is in plastic bags, tied tightly, and placed in fully closed trash cans. Trash bags cannot be left on the ground, or stored in your yard.
- This is unsightly and becomes a feeding ground for rats and other vermin.
- Loose trash in bins may become litter which you will be responsible for cleaning up.
- Recycling can be placed loosely into fully closed recycling bins. Plastic bags are not recyclable.
- All recycling must be cleaned and free of debris.
- Cardboard may be broken down and stacked neatly next to your recycling bin.
- What’s recyclable? Check out DC DPW’s recycling list!
- Ensure all bins are undamaged and have tightly fitting lids.
- If your bins are damaged or do not have lids, they become a feeding bin for rats and other vermin. To repair (possibly free) or replace (costs $55-$65) your bins, contact DC311. If you do need your bins replaced, it may be worthwhile to ask your landlord to pay for them since the bins will stay with the property after you leave.
- Bins should be marked with your address.
- Bulk trash items (furniture, mattresses) are not collected through regular collection. Contact ONL to schedule a bulk trash collection. If your neighborhood is serviced by DC DPW, you can also request bulk trash items be picked up by the city through 311.DC.gov.
- If you live in 20007 and have excess trash or recycling that cannot wait to be picked up on a regular trash/recycling day, contact ONL to schedule a pick-up.
In West Georgetown…
- Bins must be DC DPW-issued bins.
- Typical trash collection days are Tuesday & Friday. Typical recycling collection day is Friday.
- Trash and recycling bins cannot be visible from the street.
- Trash and recycling bins can be curbside after 6:30PM on the evening before collection days.
- Trash and recycling bins should be stowed away and hidden from public view by 8:00PM collection days.
- Each student residence is limited to two (2) trash bins and two (1) recycling bin.
- There are centralized trash locations in the neighborhood behind Holy Trinity, 1789, Hoya Kids, and in Alumni Square.
- Only use the bins that have a Georgetown seal on them. If it does not have the seal, you can be charged with illegal dumping by the city, and/or with improper disposal of trash by the University.
In Burleith & Foxhall…
- Bins must be DC DPW-issued bins.
- Typical trash and recycling collection day is Thursday.
- Trash and recycling bins should be pulled to the edge of the back alley for pick-up after 6:30PM the evening before collection.
- Trash and recycling bins should be taken back to your private property by 8:00PM on collection day.
- Trash and recycling bins cannot be clustered together with other properties’ cans or blocking the alleyway.
In the Cloisters West…
- Trash is collected by a private hauling company, Tenleytown Trash.
- If you are experiencing issues with trash removal, please contact them directly at 202.364.9694.
- Trash days are Tuesday and Friday. Recycling is collected only on Tuesday.
- Bins should be kept in your garage until 6:00PM on Monday and Thursday.
- Bins should be stowed away in your garage by 8:00PM Tuesday and Friday nights (collection days).
Holiday Trash Slide
- If your trash is collected by DC DPW, you will experience trash slides during your time here. When a holiday occurs, trash/recycling collection days “slide” to the next day for the rest of the week. Visit DPW for more details and watch for reminders from ONL in your email and on social media.
- Neighborhoods serviced by Tenleytown are not typically affected by trash slides.
- DC DPW skipped your house on collection day? Contact DC311 to report a skipped pick-up.
It is important to recognize that while your housing may be temporary, your neighbors may be permanent residents. They have invested a significant amount of time and money in their homes and have an understandable desire to maintain the neighborhood. Be respectful of your neighbors.
Who is responsible for ensuring that your property is in compliance with the following D.C. and university regulations? Check your lease! Your lease should state if you are responsible for leaf removal, grass and weeds maintenance or for clearing snow and ice.
If the responsibility remains with your landlord, talk to her/him about this to find out who does the mowing and weeding at your house and how often the work gets done. If the work is not getting done, let your landlord know so that your residence is not cited for violating District regulations.
Weeds and Grass
District regulations prohibit property owners from allowing grass and weeds on their premises to grow more than 8 inches in height. Failing to adhere to the rule could lead to fines of more than $500.
What’s the reason for this regulation? There are serious public health considerations. Tall grass can trigger respiratory problems like asthma and allergies. In addition, rats and other vermin nest in over-growth.
Failure to comply with a Notice of Violation during the growing season may result in DCRA cleaning the property and billing the owner for cost of the cleanup. The city urges residents to report suspected violations to DCRA at (202) 442-9557 (choose option 6) or via Twitter to @dcra.
Be mindful that keeping the grass mowed and the weeds at a minimum are critical to the public’s health and well-being, and that doing so keeps your neighborhood looking attractive.
Georgetown University’s Outdoor Maintenance Policy states:
Students who live off-campus in the District of Columbia are expected to properly maintain theirproperty’s yard, walkway, and surrounding sidewalk and comply with city regulations regardingproperty maintenance. Violations of this policy may include, but are not limited to:
Allowing grass and weeds on or around your property to grow more than 8 inches in height (pg. 16)
Any violation of this rule may result in a Code of Student Conduct charge, with fines and work sanction hours being imposed.
As autumn leaves begin to fall it is increasingly important to maintain your yards and sidewalks. ONL has rakes, brooms, and paper leaf bags to help you accomplish this task. In addition, the DC Department of Public Works (DPW) designates a few weeks to collect leaves from our city. Leaves should be raked directly into tree boxes, or bagged in paper bags and placed in the treebox.
Leaves should be ready for collection the day before the scheduled start date. Please rake your leaves directly into the closest tree box. Do not include tree limbs, bricks, dirt, rocks, etc as they may damage the equipment and delay collection. You may also bag up your leaves and place the bags in the treebox. Check out DPW’s Leaf Collection Brochure. See a DPW leaf collection vehicle in your neighborhood? Tweet @DCDPW a picture with #DCLovesFall.
Snow & Ice
Residents are responsible for clearing sidewalks. With your safety in mind, District law requires property owners to clear snow and ice from sidewalks, handicap ramps, and steps abutting their property within the first eight daylight hours after the snow, sleet or ice stops falling. It is also your responsibility to apply ice melt before snow falls. ONL has ice melt and snow shovels to help you accomplish this task- ONL will also designate Winter Houses throughout Georgetown, Burleith, and Foxhall, and each Winter House will be equipped with these supplies.
Georgetown University cares about safety and expects students who live off campus to do their part in clearing the walkways and steps around their house in a timely manner. To ensure that students are meeting their responsibilities, Georgetown University’s Outdoor Maintenance Policy states:
Students who live off-campus in the District of Columbia are expected to properly maintain theirproperty’s yard, walkway, and surrounding sidewalk and comply with city regulations regarding property maintenance. Violations of this policy may include, but are not limited to:
Failing to clear snow and/or ice from the sidewalks, handicap ramps, and steps around yourproperty within the first eight (8) daylight hours after snow, sleet, or ice stops falling. (pg. 16)
Any violation of these rules may result in a Code of Student Conduct charge, with fines and work sanction hours being imposed.
Note on Student Conduct Citations: Failure to pay the fine within 14 days will result in the fine being doubled and charged to students’ accounts. Failure to complete the work sanction hours within 14 days means the hours will also be doubled. In addition, any seniors who have outstanding fines or work sanction hours for a trash violation will not be permitted to sign up for Senior Week activities.
Students are held accountable by both their local laws and the Student Code of Conduct. University Citations will not be waived if properties are also cited by their local government or other monitoring organization.