What You Need To Know About the Changes to TOPA in DC

DISCLAIMER: The information gathered here is deemed reliable as of the date of publication, but each agency has the right to change its information and processes. Contact DC’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) with specific questions.

 

The Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) was originally passed in 1980 to protect tenants/occupants from having their homes sold out from under them. TOPA provides that the owner give tenants/occupants the opportunity to purchase the dwelling and a right of first refusal to match a third-party contract before the owner sells, demolishes, or discontinues renting out that accommodation.

 

The new act, effective July 3, 2018, excludes single-family homes from TOPA. In essence, this means that the owners of single-family homes no longer need to give tenants/occupants the opportunity to purchase or right of first refusal.

 

Those still included in TOPA:

  • Elderly and disabled tenants in single-family dwellings

  • Single-family homes with an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)

  • Single rental units in condos, co-ops, or homeowners’ associations

 

This may sound confusing, but SMART Settlements is here to help! Below is a simplified roadmap for the new single-family home TOPA process. Apply this to single-family properties (including parcels with English basements and cottage houses). Remember that elderly and disabled tenants/occupants will still have TOPA rights and different rules and forms that will come into play.

 

STEP 1

The seller or agent must deliver Form 1 (with the blank Form 2 and Form 4 attached) to each tenant/occupant via trackable delivery service.

 

Send one copy of the forms through trackable delivery service to:

Office of Tenant Advocate
2000 14th Street, NW
Suite 300 N
Washington, DC 20009

AND send an additional copy to:

Rental Conversion and Sale Division
DC Department of Housing and Community Development
1800 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20020

 

STEP 2

  • To confirm no TOPA rights, obtain the signatures of the tenants on either the No TOPA Rights Tenant Acknowledgement form OR

  • Wait 20 days to confirm that the tenants will not submit written confirmation that they are elderly or disabled.

    • In this case, Smart obtains a Review of File Letter from the DHCD, confirming the 20 days since Form 1 (from Step 1) and no TOPA rights exercised.

STEP 3 — Handled by SMART Settlements! (Go to this step if the tenant delivers Form 2, which indicates protected class.)

  • Send the Notice of Offer of Sale via trackable delivery if the tenants return Form 2 in a timely manner, indicating elderly or disabled status.

  • Obtain tenant signature on the TOPA Waiver.


TOPA properties can be very complicated transactions with many variables. The above roadmap is intended as a general guide. Please contact our office in advance for specific guidance.