DC TOPA SINGLE-FAMILY HOME GUIDELINES
What is TOPA?
The Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) is a law which requires an owner who wants to sell his or her rental property to give tenants an opportunity to purchase the accommodation and a right of first refusal to match a third-party contract. The DC TOPA single-family home guidelines derive from this act.
The new act, THE TOPA SINGLE FAMILY HOME EXEMPTION ACT OF 2018 states: Single-family accommodations are exempt from the provisions of TOPA, except accommodations with tenants who are elderly (62 or over) or with a disability who signed a written lease by March 31, 2018 and took occupancy by April 15, 2018. With the amendment, the owners of single-family homes no longer need to give tenants/occupants the opportunity to purchase or right of first refusal, but there are still notice requirements for these properties.
What is a Single-Family Accommodation?
A single-family accommodation is defined as a housing accommodation, whether free standing or attached, and the appurtenant land contains:
- One single-family dwelling; or
- One single-family dwelling with one accessory
dwelling unit; or
- A single rental unit in a condominium, cooperative,
or homeowners association, as that term is defined in DC Official Code Section 47-871(2).
What is an ADU?
The DC Code defines an accessory dwelling unit as a rental unit secondary to the principal single-family dwelling in terms of gross floor area, intensity of use, and physical character, with a separate kitchen and bath. Examples may include a carriage house or a basement apartment.
Below are a few steps for the single-family home TOPA process:
The seller or agent must deliver Form 1 Notice to Tenant of Landlord’s Receipt or Solicitation of an Offer to Sell the Single-Family Accommodation and Notice of Intent to Sell (along with the blank Form 2 and Form 4 attached) to each tenant/occupant via trackable delivery service.
Copies must also be sent to the Office of Tenant Advocate (OTA) and Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) on the same day via trackable delivery service:
Office of Tenant Advocate Rental Conversion and Sale Division
2000 14th Street, NW and DC Dept. of Housing and Comm Development
Suite 300 N 1800 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20009 Washington, DC 20020
STEP 2 -APPLICABLE WHEN THE TENANT IS NOT WITHIN THE PROTECTED CLASS (I.E. NOT ELDERLY OR DISABLED)
- To confirm no TOPA rights and to close immediately, obtain the signatures of each tenant on the TENANT ACKNOWLEDGEMENT -NO TOPA RIGHTS FORM and provide a copy to us. This acknowledgement asserts that the tenant is not elderly or disabled.
- Wait for the statutory 20 days to expire and our office will order a Review of File Letter with DHCD confirming that no TOPA rights have been exercised by a tenant.
Note: The Tenant has 20 days to respond by sending Form 2. Failure of the Tenant to deliver a response in a timely manner shall be deemed a waiver of TOPA rights.
STEP 3 — ONLY APPLICABLE IF THE TENANT DELIVERS FORM 2 TO THE SELLER CLAIMING ELDERLY OR DISABLED
- Owner must send the Notice of Offer of Sale FORM 3A, 3B, or 3C via trackable delivery to all eligible tenants, DHCD, and Office of Tenant Advocate on the same day. We will need copies of notices and mailing receipts.
- To confirm no TOPA rights have been exercised after the Offer of Sale was delivered
- obtain the signature of the eligible tenant and provide us with a copy of the TENANT’S ELECTION NOT TO EXERCISE AND WAIVER OF TOPA RIGHTS
- Wait the statutory 20 days to expire to confirm that the tenant did not submit a statement of interest and elderly/disability documentation via DHCD Form 4.
Can the Tenant assign his or her TOPA Rights?
Yes, however the only consideration that an elderly Tenant or a Tenant with a disability may receive for the sale of an Assignment of TOPA Rights is the right to immediately use and occupy the Tenant’s unit for a period of 12 months following the sale of the single-family accommodation at the rate of rent charged to the Tenant as of the date of the offer of sale.