New TOPA law in effect, exempting single family dwellings

Over the years the TOPA (Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act) was a rule that hinders the sale of a property in Washington DC. The process was lengthy and cumbersome. 

Before an owner can sell their property, tenants have an opportunity to purchase, and a right of first refusal

This year, DCAR had a monumental success in simplifying DC’s Tenant Opportunity To Purchase Act, for single-family homes. Now that the law is in effect -effective July 3rd, 2018, DC government’s Department of Housing and Community Development created new forms. 

As Marty Stanton, the attorney and a co-chair of the DC Association of Realtors, TOPA Task Force, and a member of the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors form committee explain

The new law exempts all single-family dwellings from TOPA. This includes single-family homes with or without an accessory dwelling, rowhouses with or without an accessory dwelling, and any single rental unit in the condo or a co-op. There is simply a limited exception for certain elderly or disabled tenants.

The law for two to four units, or multi-family, has not changed

For single-family homes, within three calendar days of executing a listing agreement, the seller is to complete the new tenant package for each tenant. 

Form 1 is the notice to the tenant that the property is being solicited for sale.

Form 2 is the tenant’s ability to let the property owner and DHCD know within 20 days of receipt of form 1, that they are elderly or disabled and they do qualify for limited TOPA rights based on when they took occupancy.

Form 4 is the tenant’s ability to prove just that.

In nearly all cases, the seller will send form 1, 2, and 4, and wait 20 days. The listing agent, the seller, or the title company can then email DHCD for a status letter. DHCD will respond within 7 business days. If they have not received form 2, Listing agent can move forward to settlement. TOPA compliance is done.

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