Can You Still Exercise TOPA When Given a Notice to Vacate?

  • May 19th 2016

by Nena Perry-Brown

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Back in March, UrbanTurf re-published an article about the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), which gives building tenants in DC the right of first refusal when their landlord intends to sell the building in which they reside.

A reader found herself in a TOPA situation recently when her landlord gave the tenants of the three-unit building 60-day notices to vacate and also stated an intention to sell the property. However, the landlord did not formally furnish record of the listing price or any existing offers for the property, leaving the onus on the tenants to pursue a purchase. The landlord also pressured the residents to vacate prior to the 60-day expiration of the lease, according to the reader.

So what recourse do the tenants have? Landlord and tenant attorney Emilie Fairbanks told UrbanTurf that the tenants first need to decide if they want to try and purchase the building. If they don’t, they should think through trying to stop the sale as that could result in keeping a landlord who can’t afford to keep up the property, which is not a great outcome for the tenants.

That said, tenants do have the legal power to intervene and prevent the property from being sold. Moreover, a landlord cannot terminate a lease with a tenant unless it is “for cause”, which means that the tenants can refuse to vacate without being given a legitimate cause for the termination.

Tenants can decide to just move out, and in TOPA cases that UrbanTurf has covered in the past, they are often paid to do so by the landlord. In an article from 2012, we covered the TOPA process for the Garden Towers complex next to Meridian Hill park where many residents received $20,000 payments to vacate.

See other articles related to: landlord, tenant, tenant rights, tenant-friendly, topa

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/can_you_still_exercise_topa_when_given_ntv/11253.

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