The District May Soon Exercise Property Purchase Rights

by Nena Perry-Brown

Last year, DC began making progress toward implementing several previously-passed laws intended to expand and protect the city’s affordable housing stock. The most recent law to inch closer to realization is the District Opportunity to Purchase Act, or DOPA.

If that acronym sounds familiar, its because the law is a companion to the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), a tenant-friendly law that gives renters a chance to purchase the property in which they live once the building owner puts it up for sale. DOPA was established nearly a decade ago as a safety net for properties that nonetheless fall through the cracks when tenants are unable to amass the consensus or financial power to purchase their property, allowing the city to step in and keep the property from selling to a new owner who may displace the residents or make the building otherwise unaffordable or inhospitable to new tenants. Until last month, however, there was no framework to inform how DOPA could be exercised by the city.

On December 22nd, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) published rules for implementation of DOPA into the DC Register. The provision will remain subordinate to tenants’ right of first refusal and applies only to rental accommodations with 5 or more units in cases where 25 percent of those units are affordable.

Similarly to TOPA, an owner selling a rental property will send the mayor, via DHCD or whatever agency given purview over the program, an Offer of Sale, or written notice that gives the city the right to purchase. Within seven days of sending the offer, the owner also has to provide a property report with details including:

  • a list of tenant names, their unit numbers and the current rent on those units,
  • a list of vacant units and the most recent rent charged in them,
  • a list of affordable units and the means by which rent for those units was calculated,
  • floorplans, and
  • itemized lists of monthly operating expenses and capital expenditures for the two preceding years.

After receiving the Offer of Sale, the mayor has 30 days to notify the owner and the tenants of the city’s intent to purchase the property. Once the owner receives the mayor’s notice of intent to purchase, the mayor has a minimum of 150 days to negotiate a sale. The mayor may also assign her purchasing rights to one of the developers in DHCD’s Pre-Approved Developer list.

The owner is also responsible for making the city aware of any significant progress or changes made during the tenant negotiations (e.g. if tenants opt not to exercise their right to purchase, sales contracts are entered into or rescinded, etc.). If the accommodations remain unsold 360 days from the tenants’ or city’s receipt of the Offer of Sale, the entire process must begin again if the owner still intends to sell.

Once a sale has been completed, the mayor or any assignee must furnish a plan to maintain the property’s affordability, and a property report similar to that mentioned above, to DHCD within 120 days of settlement and annually thereafter. Any vacancies in the purchased building should be filled in such a way that roughly one-third of the affordable units in the building go to households earning up to 30 percent of area median income (AMI), a third go to households earning up to 60 percent AMI, and the remaining third go to households earning up to 80 percent AMI.

The public is able to view and comment on the rules up until January 22nd. The rules are expected to be finalized in the spring.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_district_may_soon_exercise_property_purchase_rights/13396

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »