Legislative Advisory—District of Columbia: “TOPA Single Family Home Exemption Amendment Act of 2018”


After long deliberation and debate, on April 10, 2018, the District of Columbia Council amended D.C.’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (“TOPA”) (D.C. Law 3-86, Section 42-3401.01 et seq. 2001).  TOPA provides residential tenants in D.C. unique rights which landlords and homeowners must comply. In short, before a tenant-occupied residential property can be sold to a third-party, the homeowner must first provide the tenant with an opportunity to purchase the residence. Although well intentioned, TOPA has been exploited and its requirements have placed a significant financial burden on homeowners.  Moreover, TOPA has been confusing and problematic for lenders and title insurers due to the compliance risks involved when transferring a property subject to TOPA.


Introduced last year, Bill 22-315, entitled “TOPA Single-Family Home Exemption Amendment Act of 2018” seeks to address TOPA’s deficiencies, provide clarity in application, and eliminate certain loopholes. The most significant change is that the Bill excludes single-family homes, including those with accessory units;; however, the Bill  provides a carve-out exception for the elderly and disabled. The Bill further seeks to remedy certain deficiencies with regard to the notice requirements to tenants.  Under the new Bill, TOPA’s notice to tenants was changed from “receipt” to “delivery” and it expanded the types of delivery available (ie., certified mail, delivery service (FedEx), and hand delivery).  The Bill also provides that tenants may no longer receive compensation for assigning their TOPA rights.


Passed by the Council and signed by the Mayor on May 7, 2019, the Bill must now be approved by Congress.



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Please address any questions regarding the above article to Mid-Atlantic Attorney Hugh Green at hgreen@orlans.com