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What Constitutes a Single-Family Home Under DC’s TOPA Exemption?

Yesterday, a bill that will exempt renters of single-family homes from the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) moved forward in the DC Council, setting it up for passage next month. Today, UrbanTurf is clarifying what exactly constitutes a “single-family home” under this bill.

 

As the bill is written, all “single-family accommodations” would be exempted from the tenant’s right of first refusal. This includes:

  • Single-family dwellings
  • Single-family dwellings with accessory dwelling units (two-unit single-family accommodations)
  • Condominiums, co-ops, or other dwelling units that are under the purview of a homeowners’ association.

 

Tenants of properties with 2-4 units would retain their TOPA rights.

 

The bill also grandfathers in tenants who are elderly or who have disabilities; however, the TOPA timeframes in these instances will be different than what is currently in the law. Upon receiving a TOPA notice, eligible tenants would have:

  • 20 days to provide a statement of interest to the city and the property owner.
  • 25 days to negotiate a contract.
  • 45 days to settle, with the option of a 30-day extension if a lending institution submits a written statement that financing will take 75 days.

 

In the above case, the bill would remove a provision that restarts the TOPA timeframe if 180 days lapse from the date of offer and no sale has been made. Also, grandfathered-in tenants will no longer be able to assign their rights to a third party, but will be permitted to remain in their unit at their current rental rate for an additional 12 months after a sale is finalized.

 

The right of first refusal under TOPA grants renters priority in taking advantage of purchasing their residence when the property owner puts it up for sale; the current bill seeks to correct what many in the city see as unintended negative consequences of how TOPA is applied in single-family housing compared to multi-family housing.

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