TOPA: Confused yet?
We’ve had a lot of questions about TOPA lately. Some of them listed below.
Since single-family properties are exempt from TOPA, does the seller/landlord need to do anything when listing the property after July 3rd?
The short answer is yes. The Landlord must send out the Notice To Tenant Of Landlord’s Receipt Or Solicitation Of An Offer To Sell The Single-Family Accommodation and Notice Of Intent to Sell. The forms can be found on the DC Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) website.
Unlike the old TOPA notices, this Notice is not required to be sent by certified mail, although DHCD strongly recommends sending the Notice via certified mail in addition to the other forms of delivery.
Once the above Notice is sent, is the tenant required to respond?
Yes, if the tenant believes he/she falls into one of the protected classes – elderly (62 or older) or disabled – and the tenant meets the guidelines on timing of lease signing and occupation of the property; the tenant is required to remit the appropriate forms with proof age or disability within 20 days of receiving Notice of Sale to the DHCD (Forms 2 & 4) and remit a separate form to the Landlord (Form 2). The District will then determine if the individual falls into the protected class.
Can the tenant assign his or her rights under the new law?
If the tenant is determined to be in the protected class, that tenant will have tenant rights to purchase the property and be entitled to receive a written Offer of Sale from the landlord. The right to purchase is assignable, but it is very limited to whom it can be assigned and the type of consideration for the assignment.
So I listed the property prior to July 3rd and sent out the old Notices as required by the underwriter. The tenant answered with the new forms proving he is an elderly tenant. What do I do now?
Good question. All cases will be different until the underwriters give us definitive guidance. In this case, we did an assignment of rights from the tenant to the seller. The new law limits the consideration and the tenant appeared to be acting in good faith; so the assignment was written to conform to both the specific guidelines of the underwriter and the District.
When the law has been in effect longer and the title underwriters have given definitive guidance, we will provide an update on our website.