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How to File a Motion to Seal an Eviction Case in DC

Authored By: D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center

Download a sample motion to file

An overview of the law

The eviction sealing law in DC is divided into two types of sealing.  Automatic (done by the court clerks without a request by the tenant) and discretionary (tenant makes a request to the court).  Automatic sealing is supposed to be done by the court clerks either when a case is dismissed or 3 years after a judgment is entered if there are no new judgments in that 3 year period. 

Tenants have the option to file a motion to seal even if their case was eligible for automatically sealing. For some tenants this could be a better option than waiting for the court to seal their case.

Generally, eviction records can be sealed in 3 situations:

  1. When a case is dismissed.
  2. When a judgment was entered against the tenant, but the judgment is older than 3 years and there have been no new judgments in that 3 year period.
    • Note: A judgment is commonly noted on the docket as “judgment,” “judgment entered” or “consent judgment entered.”
  3. By showing the court that the case meets one or more of the 6 factors in the law.  The factors that weigh in favor of sealing the case are: 
    • Cases where the landlord sued the tenant for less than $600. 
    • Cases where the tenant was evicted from a unit under a federal or district site-based/tenant-based housing assistance program. 
    • Cases where the landlord’s complaint violated the D.C. Human Rights Act. 
    • Cases where the landlord did not make repairs. 
    • Cases where the tenant was sued because of an incident of domestic violence, stalking, or assault where they were the victim. 
    • Cases that settled on any term other than the landlord taking back the unit. 

Link to law here:


Instructions for filing a motion to seal

  • The Motion 
    • You will need to file a motion to seal the record into each case separately if you are trying to seal multiple cases.
    • Template motion to seal:
      • Rule 12-I: Landlord Tenant Court Rule 12-I requires that you contact the landlord and see if they agree to the motion. 
        • The landlord’s attorney is listed on the docket, and their contact information is usually located on the Complaint. PDF’s of the Complaint are usually available for download on the docket.  You can also contact the clerk of court for copies.
        •  If the landlord does not have an attorney, you can reach out to the landlord directly.
        •  If you are unable to reach them, you can note that in your motion under the 12-I Certification.
      • Contacting the Clerk for a Hearing Date: you are required to contact the clerk to get a court date.  If for some reason you are not able to make contact, you can put “TBD” in the date box.
  • Filing your Motion
    • Once you have proofread your motion and contacted the opposing party you are ready to file.
    • You will e-file using CasefileXpress:
      • See "Getting Started" for information on how to register and file.
      • If you have any technical issues, you can either call CasefileXpress or use their online chat feature.
        • Please note that CasefileXpress is not affiliated with the Pro Bono Center, thus, we are not able to assist with any technical issues.

Download these instructions

Last Review and Update: Jan 05, 2022
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