633-27 District courts; powers. (a) All district courts, except as otherwise provided, shall exercise jurisdiction conferred by this chapter, and while sitting in the exercise of that jurisdiction, shall be known and referred to as the small claims division of the district court; provided that the jurisdiction of the court when sitting as a small claims division of the district court shall be confined to:

(1) Cases for the recovery of money only where the amount claimed does not exceed $5,000 exclusive of interest and costs, except as provided by section 633‑30;

(2) Cases involving disagreement between landlord and tenant about the security deposit in a residential landlord-tenant relationship; and

(3) Cases for the return of leased or rented personal property worth less than $5,000 where the amount claimed owed for that lease or rental is less than $5,000 exclusive of interest and costs.

This chapter shall not abridge or affect the jurisdiction of the district courts under paragraphs (1) and (3) to determine cases under the ordinary procedures of the court, it being optional with the plaintiff in the cases to elect the procedure of the small claims division of the district court or the ordinary procedures, as provided by rule of court. No case filed in the small claims division after December 31, 1991, shall be removed from the small claims division to be heard under the ordinary procedures of the district court unless the removal is agreed to by the plaintiff. In cases arising under paragraph (2), the jurisdiction of the small claims division of the district court shall be exclusive; provided that the district court, having jurisdiction over a civil action involving summary possession, shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the small claims division of the district court over any security deposit dispute between landlord and tenant in a residential landlord-tenant relationship. This subsection shall not abrogate or supersede sections 604-5, 633-30, and 633-31.

(b) Actions shall be commenced in the small claims division of the district court of the judicial circuit in which the defendant or a majority of the defendants reside or the claim for relief arose, unless service cannot be made on all of the defendants in that circuit, in which case action may be commenced in any circuit in which all of the defendants can be served; provided that actions arising under paragraph (2) of subsection (a) of this section shall be commenced in the circuit wherein the rental premises are situated.

(c) The small claims division of the district court may grant monetary relief and equitable relief except that:

(1) Monetary relief shall not include punitive damages; and

(2) Except as specifically provided in section 633-8, equitable relief shall be granted only as between parties to a landlord-tenant disagreement pursuant to chapter 521, and shall be limited to orders to repair, replace, refund, reform, and rescind.

(d) Class actions are prohibited in the small claims division of the district court. [L 1970, c 182, pt of 1; am L 1971, c 144, 21; am L 1972, c 142, 1; am L 1979, c 172, 1; am L 1980, c 169, 1, c 171, 1 and c 232, 31; am L 1981, c 176, 1; am L 1983, c 52, 1 and c 249, 3; am L 1991, c 6, 1; am L 1992, c 233, 1; am L 2005, c 12, 1; am L 2011, c 141, 1]


Rules of Court


Applicability of District Court Rules of Civil Procedure, see DCRCP rule 81(a)(1), (c.1). Place of filing, see DCRCP rule 3(c).

Generally, see Rules of Small Claims Division.


Case Notes


Subsection (a)(2) is plain and clear and confers exclusive jurisdiction upon the small claims court; thus, the circuit court has no jurisdiction over causes of action involving security deposits. 63 H. 55, 621 P.2d 346 (1980).



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