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D.C. Council exempts single-family homes from TOPA

The legislation will now go to the Mayor for her signature

DC Homes Photo via Shutterstock/Andrei Medvedev

For nearly 40 years, the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) has allowed renters to be able to have the first right to purchase the residence they live in if the property owner plans on selling the site. This Tuesday, the D.C. Council passed a legislation that exempts single-family dwellings as well as condominiums, co-ops, and other dwellings under the purview of a homeowners’ association, as reported by UrbanTurf. The bill will be sent to Mayor Muriel Bowser for the final signature.

Now, once residents receive TOPA notice, they will have 20 days to provide a statement of interest to the city and the property owner and 25 days to negotiate a contract. UrbanTurf further reports that eligible tenants will need to settle within 45 days with the option of a 30-day extension.

In an attempt to limit TOPA exemptions to owner-occupied homes and eliminate the assignment of TOPA rights to a third party, D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau introduced an amendment to the bill, but the amendment failed.

In a statement, Nadeau said, “We cannot allow third parties to take advantage of our laws. Nor can we allow homeowners to be manipulated by bad actors. But we must use a scalpel, not a sledgehammer to address an issue of such great importance.”

This past March, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson told WAMU that he believed exempting single-family homes would actually encourage homeowners to rent out rooms or basements, which could increase housing stock in the city.

“It’s about affordable housing in making more units available, and units that are going to be of moderate cost,” said Mendelson.

Single-family homes may soon be exempt from TOPA [Curbed DC]

DC Council Passes TOPA Exemption Law [UrbanTurf]