On Tuesday, April 10th, the DC Council passed a bill that would exempt single-family homes from TOPA (Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act) provisions. Originally, the law was designed to protect tenants from being displaced by landlords who planned to sell their multi-unit residential buildings and that’s a good thing. However, over the years, the law has been interpreted in a way that has left homeowners with limited control over the sale of their homes and some tenants have taken advantage of the law by effectively selling their right of first refusal to the highest bidder.
Exempting single-family homes from TOPA doesn’t leave renters unprotected and they still have the ability to buy the homes they are renting. Both the landlord and the tenant still have to agree to terminate the lease on a home before it can be sold. A homeowner can only ask a tenant to vacate the property if they want to move into the home to use as their primary residence. In addition, elderly tenants and tenants with disabilities will be grandfathered under the new TOPA Single-family Home Exemption Act of 2018.
We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the bill still must be signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser and then passed by Congress. Stay tuned for more updates and feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions about what these changes may mean for you. While I can’t offer legal advice, I can certainly refer you to several attorneys who know the bill inside and out.