Domestic Violence Lawyer in DC

Getting a Protective Order Against My Roommate

Mark Rollins Civil Protection Orders

  • 202-455-5610
Washington DC & MD Civil Protection Order Lawyers

Getting a Civil Protection Order Against My Roommate in DC

Getting a CPO against Roommate in DC

Why would you get a Civil Protection Order Against Your Roommate – or Vice Versa

If you and your roommate are physically fighting or threats have been made you probably need a protective order because living together does not sound like a good idea.    We find this happens more and more because more people are living together in these expensive condominiums.    The law made it easier for the lease to be broken so that the roommates can get out of the lease if certain criteria are met.    

Whether the Court can Hear the Case – “Subject MatterJurisdiction”

The first question you have to ask yourself about whether you can take out a civil protection order against your roommate is whether the Court may hear the matter.   Domestic Violence Division Court is a subdivision of the Court designated by court rule to hear matters involving domestic violence. In other words, the Domestic Violence Division Court cannot hear every case.   For example, suppose you got into a fight with your neighbor. In that case, you could not get the Domestic Violence Division Court to hear it because it can only hear cases defined as Intrafamily Offenses.

If the Court has Jurisdiction – Does it have jurisdiction over me? “Personal Jurisdiction”

For the Court to hear the case, the Court must have jurisdiction over the person.   In other words, the Judge must have the power or authority to make decisions that affect a person.   For the Judge to make decisions in the court case, the Court must have “personal jurisdiction” over all of the parties to that court case.    Domestic Violence Division Courts have personal jurisdiction over the Petitioner and Respondent if:  

(1) The Petitioner resides, lives, works, or attends school in the District of Columbia:

(2) The Petitioner is under the legal custody of a District government agency; or

(3) The underlying offense occurred in the District of Columbia.

Most of the time, the Court will have jurisdiction because the Petitioner is alleging an act that occurred in the District of Columbia. That’s all that is needed for the Court to exercise jurisdiction or the ability to decide for the Petitioner. The Respondent could still say he has no contact with the jurisdiction; therefore, the Court should not be permitted to make decisions over him. 

Does the Domestic Violence Court have Subject Matter Jurisdiction when we are just roommates or housemates?

Yes, absolutely. This issue was addressed in the Court case of Shewarega v. Yegzaw, 947 A.2d 47, 50 (D.C. 2008). In that case, the Respondent argued that the Court lacked jurisdiction because they were just housemates. In this case, the parties shared the kitchen, living room, dining room, entrance, and hallways at the rooming house.   The Court found that the parties “shared a mutual residence” within the meaning of D.C.Code § 16–1001 (5B)(A).   That limited relationship was enough, the Court ruled, to satisfy statutory prerequisites for an “intrafamily offense.”

Can I get out of my lease because my roommate and I got into a fight?

Yes, you can, but one of the following must be met:

  1. Provide the Landlord with a copy of an order from the Court that you filed an intrafamily offense in Court filed.  


  1. Provides the Landlord with documentation signed by a qualified third party showing that you reported the intrafamily offense to a third party acting in their official capacity.  A qualified third party is a law enforcement officer, a licensed medical provider (doctor), or a domestic violence counselor.

When will I be released from the Landlord/Tenant Relationship

How much Time Do I have to Report the IntraFamily Offense to the Landlord

You have 90 days from the incident to request out of your lease agrreement with the Landlord.  

Will I be Responsible for any Rent thereafter?

You will be released from the lease and will only be liable for rental payment obligation, pro-rated to the earlier of 14 days from the written notice.

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