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Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Assistance

DHCD administers innovative programs to assist low-to-moderate income District residents threatened with displacement because of the sale of their building. District law states that tenants in buildings up for sale must be offered the first opportunity to buy the building (DC Law 3-86, the “Rental Housing Conversion and Sale Act of 1980,”under which falls the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA))/ The District encourages tenants to exercise this right—it stabilizes city neighborhoods, combats urban displacement and helps tenants become homeowners. With DHCD’s assistance, the tenant groups are able to purchase the building and convert the units into cooperatives or condominiums. DHCD provides the following services:

  1. financial assistance such as seed money, earnest money deposits, and acquisition funding;
  2. technical assistance; and
  3. specialized organizational and development services, to include structuring the tenant association, preparing legal documents, and helping with loan applications

More than 1,000 units have been preserved as affordable housing since FY 2002.

New Law Exempts Most Single-Family Dwellings from TOPA

On July 3, 2018, a new law became effective that exempts single family dwellings from TOPA, unless occupied by elderly or disabled tenants. The significant provisions of the TOPA Single-Family Home Exemption Amendment Act of 2017 (Bill 22-0315) are as follows:

  • Also exempted from TOPA are single family dwellings with an Accessory Dwelling Unit and a single rental unit in a condo, co-op or homeowners’ association.
  • An owner of exempted units must give tenants notice within three calendar days of receiving an offer of sale.
  • Elderly and disabled tenants who signed a lease to occupy an exempted unit by March 31, 2018 and took occupancy by April 15, 2018, will have a limited opportunity to purchase or assign their rights. They must provide documentation verifying their status.
  • DHCD’s Rental Conversion and Sale Division (CASD) will determine an elderly or disabled tenant’s status.

See the Summary Fact Sheet on the law below, and go to for related forms.

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