DC Real Estate TOPA
Tenants have unique rights in Washington D.C. Familiarize yourself with them whether you're a buyer or seller.
What Buyers and Sellers Should Know About DC TOPA
The Tenant Opportunity To Purchase Act guarantees tenants that:
"Before an owner of a housing accommodation may sell the accommodation, or issue a notice of intent to recover possession, or notice to vacate, for purposes of demolition or discontinuance of housing use, the owner shall give the tenant an opportunity to purchase the accommodation at a price and terms which represent a bona fide offer of sale."
Before a landlord can sell his property, tenants have the right to buy it. A contract on a property that is tenanted is 'subject to' or conditional on the tenant's TOPA rights. Didn't know? Too bad. The Act says; "Third-party purchasers are presumed to act with full knowledge of tenant rights."
• Single-family: Includes condominiums or co-ops. Tenant has 30 days from the time the offer is received to advise the landlord that he is interested in buying the property. If tenant indicates interest in writing as required, he has an additional 60 days to negotiate a contract with the property owner, and an additional 60 days to settle if a contract is ratified. If the tenant's lender requires an extension to close the loan and indicates same in writing to the owner, the tenant has an additional 30 days to settle. Total: 180 days if the tenant doesn't sell his rights to another.
• Two to four-unit buildings: The landlord/seller must make an offer to all tenants, who then have 15 days in which to jointly state their interest in purchasing. If, within 15 days, the joint tenants do not provide a written statement of interest, any single tenant may issue an individual statement of interest. Seven additional days are then given to the tenant to advise the landlord. Once a statement has been delivered in either case, an additional 90-day period begins so that a contract can be negotiated. If negotiations fail, the landlord/owner must provide an additional 30 days for any one of the current tenants to enter into a purchase and sales contract. If a contract is effected, an additional 90 days is given for settlement plus an extension of 30 days if required by lender. Total: 232 days if the rights aren't sold to another.
• Five or more unit buildings: If the building contains more than four rental units, TOPA makes it clear that only a valid tenant association has the right to take advantage of the law when this property is sold.
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Copyright 2012 Susan Isaacs
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