On Tuesday, May, 5, 2020, the Council of the District of Columbia passed the Coronavirus Omnibus Emergency Amendment Act of 2020. This is the third emergency bill that the Council has passed to provide various forms of relief to District of Columbia businesses and residents.
The Act includes the following key provisions:
- Imposes a 15% limit on commissions that third-party delivery platforms may charge restaurants for the delivery of food and beverages
- Prohibits commercial-retail rent increases during the period of the public health emergency and 30 days thereafter
- Changes the type of tenant from commercial to commercial-retail for entitlement to a pass-through rent reduction when the landlord receives the mortgage relief provided in the COVID-19 Response Supplemental Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 that Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law on April 10, 2020
- Prohibits landlords from filing complaints of eviction against commercial or residential tenants during the public health emergency
- Requires commercial and residential landlords to establish a rent payment plan covering a one-year period after the end of the public health emergency for tenants who can demonstrate that they suffered financial hardship as a direct or indirect result of the public health emergency
- Requires District government contractors to report immediately to the District government when they learn or have reason to believe that one of their employees has come into contact with an individual who has been exposed, or is suspected to have been exposed to the coronavirus
- Requires landlords to refund to a tenant, on a prorated basis, any amenity fee that a tenant pays to a landlord if that amenity is no longer available to the tenant during the public health emergency
- Requires landlords or landlord representatives to clean (or cause to be cleaned) common areas of a housing accommodation on a regular basis, including surfaces that are touched regularly
During the Council's deliberations on the Coronavirus Omnibus Emergency Amendment Act of 2020, the bill was amended to remove a provision that would have required insurers to pay business interruption claims from certain small businesses. Some councilmembers expressed concerns about the constitutionality of such a provision. However, there was discussion that this provision may reappear in a revised form that would not raise constitutionality issues.
The Council also removed the section of the bill requiring the DC Water and Sewer Authority and all other utilities to enter into payment plans with their customers. This proposed provision will be considered in a different form, in a later bill.
Mayor Bowser is expected to sign this legislation into law this week. The Council expects to address additional relief in its next legislative session.
May 6, 2020: Coronavirus Omnibus Emergency Amendment Act of 2020