Dear PoP – Landlord selling house-what do I do?

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“Dear PoP,

My landlord called me last Sunday to tell me he’s selling the rowhouse where I rent the basement (he and his wife live upstairs). I’m currently month-to-month on my lease (which ends in September) and want to know what my rights as a renter are? from what I understand, they’re supposed to offer me the house first before putting it on the market, but they haven’t done that and their having an open house this weekend. This has all come as a big surprise and I’m not too happy about it. Any tips or advice on how I handle myself intelligently and make sure I’m taken care of in case of a sale?”

Hmm, I do think if you live in the house (even the basement apartment) then you should be offered first crack at the house. I don’t think there are price restrictions to what they can I ask. I just think you get first choice. Anyone know if that’s true?

But even if it is true and you are unable to purchase the home, as a renter, if you are given notice (30 days or whatever your lease says?) then I’m afraid you just might be out of luck. I suspect this is a fairly common occurrence, I feel like I’ve heard this happening to friends, unfortunately I think you may need to start looking for a new place.

Any know the proper rules/laws and etiquette in a situation like this?

102 Comment

  • Yes. DC has probably the strongest laws in the nation for tenants. Google “DC right of first refusal” or “DC TOPA” or “DC Tenant opportunity to purchase act” and you’ll get all kinds of information. AND I’m about 90% sure that they can’t just kick you out, even if you are on a month-to-month lease. There are only about 5 or so justifications for kicking someone out of a unit, and wanting to sell it is definitely not one of them. I would go down to the Landlord-Tenant Resource Center at the courthouse–they’ll give you a ton of information.

    • ignoring the bad advice and meanness further down in the thread, the resource center is a good option. The DC bar also has a free advice & referral clinic the second Saturday of each month:

      You may also want to contact the District’s Office of the Tenant Advocate.

      You have a lot of rights in this situation and it makes sense to find out what they are! Learning about the law might help you decide what you want to do (move out/keep renting/try to buy the building).

      • So they want to sell their house; ask them to consider you as a potential buyer – If you cannot afford to buy the house, ask or wait for your 30 day notice and look for an alternative place to live. No need to make this more complex or difficult than it needs to be.

        • Ditto. You’re already on a month-to-month lease, so the owner has the right to kick you out with proper notice. At some point they are supposed to have you sign something saying you reliquish your right to purchase the house. Unless you’ve been seriously looking for properties I doubt you’d be in a position (mentally, financially, or otherwise) to buy it anyway. I’d start looking for a new place, but don’t freak out too much– January-February is traditionally a slow time for real estate, so the house probably won’t be selling right away. Also, there’s a good chance the new owners would be happy to keep you there.

    • haha, +1 “ignore the meanness further down the thread”

      although seems that homeowning causes great bitterness here, are you sure you want to become one?

  • Did your landlord say he wanted you to move out? If you are a good tenant (please don’t snark at me), the new owner would probably be happy to have you stay.

  • If the basement unit isn’t registered with the city then they can pretty much do whatever they want and I dont think TOPA can apply.

    That’s the risk of living in an unregistered unit.

  • It sounds like the landlord has properly advised you of the situation. Please actually read the law to understand your rights and responsibilities. Clearly you know just enough not to know much. A simple google of the law will produce a wealth of knowledge.

  • I just went through this a few months ago. They gave me first right of refusal, per law, but not until there was an official offer and were in the process of closing. I’m pretty sure the lease goes with the house, unless the new owner doesn’t want a tenant. This happened with one of the offers for the house and the sellers offered me a substantial payment for my troubles, to break the lease and move. Fortunately, yet unfortunately, that offer fell through. Lost out on the money, but also didn’t have to move. house sold and my lease went with it. new owner is my current landlord and lease didn’t change except for the name of the landlord.

    • I believe this is accurate – the landlord gives you a right of first refusal once an official offer has been placed on the house. You as the tenant have the opportunity to match that offer without competition. It’s actually one of the fairest aspects of the TOPA rules since the landlord AND the current tenant both have the opportunity to win there. The landlord gets the price they are offered for the building and the tenant gets to own their place without moving.

      • yes this is correct. i bought a house with a tenant in it and once my offer was made they had to either make the same offer or refused. they refused and stayed on as my tenant for a number of years. don’t assume that the new landlord will ask you to move out. it’s one less headache for them when they move in and unless they are going to renovate it into one house they probably want and need your rental income.

        • However, if you’re paying below-market rent the new owner will probably want to raise it. Last summer I tried to bid on a house that had a separate carriage house. The carriage house tenant was only paying $850/month to essentially have her own little house a block from Eastern Market– talk about a sweet deal! Had I gotten the house, I would have been forced to raise the rent, since I’d be owing a lot more than the previous owners did in 1961.

          • They have to do it all over again if the lower the price of the house. We almost lost the house we were buying b/c the owner didn’t have proof they they notified the renters of the reduction in the price of the house.

            It’s a big deal when it comes to settlement and can completely botch the whole thing.

  • I’m not sure if this makes a difference, but what do you mean that your lease is “month to month” but it goes thru September? I believe if you have a lease that does not expire until September, then they cannot force you to move before then (they can offer you $$ to move, but it’s up to you whether you want to take the deal). But it might be different if your lease is actually month-to-month. I’m sure there’s some kind of notice required but I don’t know how much.

    • Yeah, I was confused about that too. I thought month-to-month meant that there was no obligation further than one month for either the tenant or the landlord. Meaning that either one can end the contract at any, presumaby with at least one month’s notice.

      In which case I would think the letter writer get’s one month notice and then moves somewhere else. But it’s probably different if there is actually a lease in place until September.

      • Unlike most other places, no-fault evictions aren’t allowed in DC, lease or no lease. No tenant — even a month to month tenant — can be evicted except for under certain circumstances: nonpayment of rent, criminal/drug activity, serious lease violations, habitual lesser lease violations, and a few other exceptions such as major rehab, conversion to personal use or discontinuation of use as a dwelling.

        In DC you’re pretty much stuck with a tenant as long as they pay rent and don’t get arrested, so landlords (especially small property owners) should take their time and choose wisely.

        • Wouldn’t this fall under “conversion to personal use” if the new owners wanted to have use of the basement and not have a renter? Assuming this is a month-to-month lease since that part was confusing.

          • Yes. But the new owner can’t turn around and re-rent to a new tenant.

          • If they did want to use the basement themselves, then yes. However, I didn’t see any indication of that in the OP’s question.

            Also, the notice period for commencing and eviction action due to conversion to personal use is much longer than 30 days. I think it’s 90. Not only that, but you can’t serve that type of notice if the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase and the Right of First Refusal haven’t been properly given.

            If the new owners decide some time down the road to convert the property to personal use, then TOPA shouldn’t matter (provided that enough time has passed so that the tenant has essentially waived his or her rights)

        • I did not know that, that sounds crazy to me. Seems unfair and not very logical.

    • ah

      As a general matter, a lease runs with the property, so even if it’s sold you can stay through the end of your lease. As for whether they can kick you out/terminate lease at that point, that’s a separate question of landlord/tenant rights in DC. Of course, once lease is up they could triple your rent.

  • It sounds like you are a self-entitled whiner, so why don’t you hold up the sale and use your right of first refusal to fuck over the owners, drag out any sale, and wreak general havoc. Or, find a new apartment. Wait, that would be too hard. Douche.

    • at the risk of jumping to a whole bunch of conclusions, +1.

    • RUDE…

      This is exactly why the Tenants in DC have, and rightly so, more rights than the landlords.

      • But the thing is, people hate it when they don’t have control over their own stuff. . .a landlord is the owner of the property. THE OWNER. When there are new people that actually OWN and not rent the basement, they should have every right in the world to not rent out the basement. There are enough apartments to go around. . .
        Of course, when I was hunting for my house, I ruled out anything that was being rented for this exact reason.

        • They do have that right, once the lease is up. But the tenant was there first and their lease takes precedent.

          • but the tenant is MONTH-TO-MONTH! and the landlord has obviously given him proper notice.

            I really don’t understand the sense of entitlement DC people have.

          • That part is confusing, since they also said their lease went through Sept. But if it is truly month-month, then yes, the owners would be able take over the basement for their personal use after whatever notice is required.

      • The extreme renter’s rights in DC meant that I had to turn many people away before renting out my basement. I couldn’t take the risk that some sleazy person would abuse the system in DC and become a nightmare tenant. It took me a while to rent the place. Ultimately, all of these artificial interferences in the landlorad-tenant relationship by the DC government only makes apartments more expensive in DC.

    • +100,

      The gall of renters in this town. Listen bub, you RENT an apt, on a month to month basis no less. It doesn’t guarantee you a roof over your head forever, and certainly not on your terms.

      When the owner sets whatever price they want to sell for, they will need to offer you the right of first refusal. If you can’t afford it, then your out. Honor the terms of your lease and get out when you are told.

      • Clearly you do not understand the laws in this town that protect the rights of tenants. Those laws do guarantee you a roof over your head virtually forever.

      • WHAT is up with these stupid comments demeaning the renter for asking the questions?

        1) It is not unreasonable for any renter to pay his dues, conserve his time and money, wait for good oppportunities where he can truly benefit. He has the right.

        2) It is also reasonable for a landlord to know let the renter know of any major plans that will upset his life, or moves. He needs time react and adjust appropriately.

        • The renter has no rights. He made the mistake of being on a month to month lease, I am sure purposely so he could get out of the lease anytime he wanted.

          He has been given notice which by the lease is probably somewhere between 30-45 days. Thats it, he isn’t entitled to anything else.

          • Oh, are you sure now?

            Did you read my comment? I didn’t think it was that hard to understand.

            Good luck to you in your life. May your karma come back to you.

          • You don’t know the law, nor have you bothered to read carefully the original posting. A phone call does not constitute legal notice.

            Also, in DC it’s usually in the renter’s interest to be month to month. With a lease a tenant is on the hook for all of the rent even if he or she wants to move, whereas no-fault evictions have essentially been abolished. This means that entering into a lease actually lessens flexibility for the tenant while conferring only minimal benefit.

            The existence of a lease is mostly for the protection of the landlord — in DC anyway. It’s not like that in most jurisdictions.

    • It can cost a lot of money to move. And try to remember that tenants are helping to pay many an owner’s mortgage in this town.

      • Well heaven forbid that someone have to rent a U-Haul for a day to clean out the 1Br basement apartment.

        You know what else costs a lot of money? Getting screwed when you want/need to sell the most significant asset you own by a basement renter who pushes a third-party interest to the extreme. In this case, the landlords live upstairs — I highly doubt they are slumlords who do this all over town. The OP basically wants to stand in the way of them selling their own home (notice that word — it would be bad enough if it were just some property they owned, but this is where these people live, and for whatever reason, they no longer want to live there/own the home).

  • What about if you rent a room out in a house? I think it’s possible to rent out a basement that’s not a legal rental as long as a tenant has access to the rest of the house. You can come to an agreement with a tenant that they would not use the rest of the house, but give them a key just in case they need an emergency exit.

    • It kind of depends on the kitchen/bathroom facilities. If there’s evidence of a separate cooking space (fridge, microwave, kitchen sink -ish type stuff), then it’s a separate apartment.

  • So if you are interested in buying the property why not just go to the open house and talk w/ the realtor and say I’m willing to pay the asking price. Let’s sign a contract and put your deposit down.


    It’s yours, problem solved.

    Otherwise put your big boy/girl pants on and find yourself a new place. Seems simple enough to me.

  • Wait a second. As the renter of a basement apartment are you in any position to purchase a full rowhouse at market value? If you are, speak up. If not, why be an ass and hold up this family’s life?

      • Some DC tenants want to abuse the power they are given by the DC government and get paid, that is all. If only I could change the rules so that it is fair to both tenants and landlords.

    • It’s possible, though unlikely. I’m paying $650/month in rent but am able and willing to pay up to $2500/month in mortgage and have been seriously been looking to buy a house. Renting a cheap apartment in the meantime means I’ll have a bigger downpayment when the time comes.

    • i had a house mate that once did that.
      it was horrible.
      she even wrote the owner asking for a huge price cut.

      i couldn’t leave that behind me quick enough.

  • If you can’t or won’t buy it, just move and don’t be a dick.

  • Man, whats with all the anger? All the person did was ask a question. Renters have rightsin DC, and if you buy a property with a tenant, you know going in that person may want to stay through the end of the lease, or even longer.

    • Do any lawyers know how quickly an eviction can proceed if proper notice has been given AND the tenant refuses to buy or leave?

      That’s really the question here. Tenants can last months not paying rent waiting for the eviction process to proceed.

      • You can get a writ pretty quickly if the tenant refused to leave if proper notice has been given; however, when the Marshalls move on the writ is a different matter as they won’t evict if the weather is less than 50 degrees. This is why some tenants stop paying rent in October b/c they know they will live free until March.

    • Honestly, I think what provokes the level of anger (which I share, btw), is that this is a very common scenario in DC into which many of us can project ourselves. The landlords here aren’t slumlords — they live upstairs, so clearly they are just trying to sell their home, which for any of us is a huge deal, both financially and emotionally. The OP, on the other hand, appears just not to want to have the inconvenience of losing what evidently has turned out to be a pretty good rental situation for him, which tells me at a minimum that to this point, he hasn’t had that much of an issue with the apartment or landlords or rent that he wants to leave.

      When I weigh those interests against each other and read between the lines the possibility that the OP, in the interest of “protecting himself,” may somehow try to block/delay/screw the sale, I have sympathy only for the landlords. There are lots of basement apartments that the OP can rent; the landlords likely only own this one home.

  • this has been a bizarre thread with a lot of angry words. seems like a lot of people don’t really know the law and are just making ideological stands based on wether they own or rent. not nice.

    • me

      No. That’s stupid and has nothing to do with being nice or not. I rent, and if I were in this situation, I would put on my Big Girl Pants and find somewhere else to live. It happens and is a fact of life for people that rent, especially month-to-month. I see in this city (way too often) people who are only asking about what can be done for them and how they can get around any crappy situation or rule.

      It doesn’t sound like the OP is destitute and won’t be able to find another spot to live. Sometimes you just need to be an adult and deal.

  • Anger because this happens so often in transactions — the tenant decides last minute they want the damn thing and the whole thing goes down the tubes. The fact that the writer knows that they are due first right of refusal but is passive-aggressively miffed about the fact that they’re having an open house is a red flag to me. If they want it, they should do the honorable thing and speak up now and save everyone some trouble. If not, then they need to get over it and move. It sucks, but that’s the life of a renter — he is month to month, meaning BOTH parties can terminate the rental at any time, and he is being . So far, his/her only complaint is that they’re miffed they have to move and that they owners are having an open house. Not exactly trampling of any rights.

  • This guy sounds like a sleazy opportunist. He wrote “Any tips or advice on how I handle myself intelligently and make sure I’m taken care of in case of a sale.” The owner of the house is selling the house that they own, in what way does he wish to be “taken care of?”

    According to the Washington Post, the property does not necessarily need to be offered to him before it is under contract with a buyer.

    “Under TOPA, a landlord must provide tenants with an offer of sale. This can be done either before or after the landlord has signed a contract with a third party. This offer must include the asking price, a statement as to whether there already exists a third-party contract, and a statement that the owner shall make available to the tenants, within seven days after receiving a written request, certain information about the property, including a floor plan of the building (if one exists), and an itemized list of monthly operating expenses.”
    (Kass, Benny L. “D.C. Landlords Must Give Tenants a Chance to Buy Property” 7-17-04 Page F03)

  • Month to month or in the first month of a 10 year lease has no bearing on when a tenant can be pushed out of an apartment.

    There are well laid out rules on how much notice a landlord must give a tenant to vacant an apartment. They are 30, 60, 90, etc days depending on the circumstance (selling, taking back space for personal user, etc.) Look up the law/regulation.

    Here’s a link on evictions:,a,3,q,573247,otaNav,|33325|,.asp

    I couldn’t find one for selling the property (although I know I’ve read it before.) Either way, unless you’re in a position to buy the property why obstruct the landlord from selling? Have you talked to your landlord? Maybe you can stay or maybe he’s going to give you plenty of time to move out. Regardless you can’t just stay until your lease runs out in September, so try a little old fashion communication first.

    • There isn’t one for a simple sale. In most cases, the buyer inherits the tenant. The exception is when the property is sold AND the new owners want to convert to personal use. It’s in the same code paragraph that addresses conversion to personal use without sale (42-3505.01).

  • why would a right of first refusal extend to the entire house? the current tenant has absolutely no interest in the unoccupied portion of the house. his interest is in the basement, which probably isn’t severable from the entire property. just wong tong’s two yuan.

    • It extends to the property. The basement isn’t a separate property and can’t be sold as such. So, they get to buy the whole place if they want. I doubt this is exercised much; I’d be interested to find out how often.

  • Wow! Weird timing

    Closing on a row home in Capitol Hill this afternoon, with a basement apartment that has a C of O. Tenants are staying and both us benefit. They don’t move and we get 1/3 of our monthly mortgage paid for.

    I don’t know the proper rules, but I do know the proper etiquette. Place an offer in on the house, plan to move, or meet the new buyers and tell them what the maintenance issues are in the apartment. Then take solace in the fact that your new landlord will have those issues fixed in the home inspection contingency of the purchase offer and you two will have begun a symbiotic relationship.

  • And when I said proper rules, I meant the leaglize after the right of first refusal

  • I don’t see why people are being so aggressive?

    Assuming the tenant is not going to buy the place I think the way it works is that the owner sells the house, and at some point between now and closing they give the tenant formal (written) termination notice. 30, 45, 60, 90 days…whatever it is. I think standard DC notice is the last day of the next month; so, if notice is given on February 4th, the tenant must be out by March 31.

    If the owner gives formal notice really early, then the owner risks losing rental income before they actually sell. If they do it at or near closing time, the lease (which lasts however many days more there is left between notice and required vacancy) carries over to the new buyer. That buyer has an option to start a new lease with the tenant, but isn’t required to by any means.

    The end. Why is that so hard? Why is it so objectionable that the tenant is taken by surprise and wants to know how long they have before having to move?

    • I agree with the sentiment, but why are you (and others) assuming that sale = termination?

      That’s not the way it works in DC. You can’t give an eviction notice just because the property is sold. It has to be sold to someone who intends to immediately convert the unit to personal use (or do major renovations, or discontinue its use as a dwelling, etc.). Otherwise, the situation continues as before, just with a new owner.

  • I think the reason for some of the “anger” directed towards the original post (which I will admit to feeling a bit of) is that the language and tone suggest a sense of entitlement that may or may not be warranted. And each of us views this through our own lens. As a homeowner, I interpret “make sure I’m taken care of” as “I want to use my tenancy as leverage to get some benefit (other than another lease) out of this deal.” Renters may interpret that as “I just want fair notice so I can move in a reasonable amount of time and not be told I have to get out in week.”
    If the OP is really interested in taking care of his or herself, he or she should do some basic research into DC landlord-tenant law to find out EXACTLY what his or her rights are. I will bet that the information is readily available from the DC government. Then he or she will be in a better position to make sure his or her rights are protected.

  • So the moral of the story is – if you have a tenant in an apartment in your home on a month to month lease and you want to sell.

    1. Give the tenant 30 day notice to move because you will be taking personal use of the space.

    2. Tenant moves

    3. Take personal use of the space.

    4. Sell the house.

    Don’t take a risk of screwing up a sale by trying to be kind or accommodating to the tenant.

    • 5. You get sued by the tenant for not giving the proper 90 day notice for personal use, or the eviction itself gets delayed for months.

      6. You get sued by the tenant for intentionally circumventing TOPA and the sale is held up for months (this does happen)

      7. You get sued by the new owners, because you just sold them a unit that can’t be rented by anyone for 12 months.

      • wow, all the talk of lawsuits in this thread is exactly why I don’t rent out my english basement. which of course means less supply and higher rents. congratulations “tenant advocates” – way to “stick it to the man” (when the man is a homeowner trying to make ends meet).

        • +10. So assuming a round number of $1200/ month, and knowing that there’s distinct possibility that the tenant is going to stop paying rent and you’re going to have to buy them out for say $2500. Then you have to pay income tax on the rental income. I think you’re looking at clearing maybe $8k a year assuming that you don’t have to fix any damage? Does that sound about right.

          • Assuming a bad, but not worst case, situation, the $2,500 will probably pay for the eviction (court costs, movers, the US Marshal, cleaning up afterward) if you don’t have a lawyer. Or you could just buy the tenant off. Either way, you’re probably not far off the mark there. Then you have to assume 1-2 months lost rent for normal turnover on top of the rent that the tenant didn’t pay, since the odds of successfully enforcing a money judgment against a tenant in DC are so low that most landlords just opt for the eviction itself.

            Being 1) a homeowner renting a basement in DC, 2) a completely and totally legal landlord, and 3) substantially profitable is extraordinarily difficult. It reminds me of the “project triangle” in that you can usually only have 2 of the 3.

          • In most cases, the extra income is offset by additional interest deduction (having bought a larger house) and depreciation. I’d expect to see the full 1200 realized after taxes. Additionally, there’s the benefit of having housing expense lower over time. Today, the rental is 1/3 your mortgage, in 15 years, it could be 2/3. In 30, it pays for your one bedroom vacation home in Florida.

          • exactly. it’s just not worth it. i fail to understand why “tenant advocates” are so gleefully quick to advocate suing landlords who are doing simple things like trying to sell their house. It’s like the word “landlord” makes someone evil.

      • Your wrong Former Layer

        Timing and Standing in admistrative law –
        “The correct perfection of a prevailing and applicable area of adminstrative process and law cannot be made void by the subsequent application of another section of adminstrative process and law that is temporally invaild.”

        A clean break is a clean break. A person who no longer “the tenant” cannot seek remedy in other sections of tenant law.

        • Huh? This isn’t administrative law so I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

          And no, a “clean break” isn’t necessarily a clean break. If you haven’t heard about a former tenant suing a landlord or new owner over a fraudulent inducement to get around TOPA then you’ve spent no time at Landlord/Tenant Court and your opinion is of no value.

          • Correction: Until recently those cases had to be brought in the Civil Actions Branch. The principle’s the same

  • You almost have to question why the listing agent has not addressed this!!! When I sold my rowhouse, my renter had just moved out. I was required to provide at settlement a letter from the tenant saying they had moved out willfuly on there own and they were not interested in buying my house. App something you need to have if the tenant vacated within a 6 (or 12) month period of the closing date. Since I knew she was moving back to Germany at the end of the school year, I held off selling my house until she was gone.

  • Holy Crap. This is exactly why my wife and I won’t rent out our condo. Being a landlord is just not worth it.

  • We bought a rowhouse in DC two months ago that came with basement tenants. They made clear to the sellers that they wanted to stay, made a point of keeping their place clean and tidy during the open houses, and made every effort to make the sellers’ lives easier during the sale. For these reasons, we were happy to take them on and as we expected they have proven to be model tenants.

    The OP might want to take a lesson from these people. As I understand the law, his/her landlord has done everything by the book. They’re NOT entitled to be offered to buy the house before it even goes on the market; all they are entitled to is to be notified that the house is selling and that they have the right to buy the house at whatever price the seller gets on the open market. Rather than give the landlord the benefit of the doubt, they got all pissy (at best) or are now looking at ways to screw the landlord (at worse).

    Grow up.

  • Wow. I am a renter myself, but I feel like siding with the landlords. Dude, you are not screwing over “The Man” or a management company….these people live in this house and want to sell it….They own the thing-not you! Now pony up and make an offer or shut up and grab a U-haul.

  • Hello everyone! To those of you who have left informative comments, thank you very much. To the rest of you, my my, what anger!

    First of all, I have no intention of making my landlord’s lives hell, they’re very nice people and we get along swimmingly. While I was taken aback by the sudden announcement of their intent to move, I do not intend to be vindictive, seek restitution, or ask for my moving costs to be covered (how ridiculous). I am of course completely in the know regarding my lease and that they can give me 30 days notice whenever they wish.

    My question to PoP readers was regarding the rules in DC and how this situation is usually handled. I now realize I should have worded it much more carefully, but little did I know when sending off a quick request to the Prince last night that I would be misleading so many of you.

    To those of you who provided useful comments about your past experience with this situation and offered advice and links, thank you. I’ve learned a lot from everyone and now know what usually happens on these occasions. I am also planning to visit the DC Tenant’s Advocate Office for the official information next week.

    To the rest of you telling me to grow up, and calling me a “douche”, maybe you should try growing up yourself before jumping to conclusions.

  • So now your question/issue seems even more confusing. You say you want to know – “how the situation is usually handled. . ” but also that you accept that they can give you 30 days notice according to your lease.

    Help us understand exactly what you are after here. Do you want to buy the house? Do you want the landlord to pay you something extra to leave? (If so why?)

    Or did you mean this to be some purely educational post that has nothing really to do with your situation?

  • How can an announcement that your landlord intends to move NOT be “sudden?” What did you expect them to do, break it to you gradually?

    That you’re still going to the DC Tenant’s Advocate Office for “official information” speaks volumes to me. It tells me that you don’t get along “swimmingly” with your landlord and aren’t all that convinced that they’re “nice people.”

    Have you told your landlord yet whether you have any interest in buying the house? Have you told him whether you want to stay in the basement even if you can’t or don’t want to buy the house? Have you made any effort to TALK to the landlord — the nice people with whom you get along so swimmingly — AT ALL?

    Something tells me you haven’t.

  • People should listen to Former Lawyer. As a current real estate lawyer, I can say he is pretty much on the money. All of you that are angry about what a tenant can do shouldn’t yell at the tenant, you should yell at your council members who enacted the law and push for a change. Of course that is unlikely to happen as most people just like to complain, and not actually do anything constructive about it.

  • “…make sure you’re taken care of.” What, is your mommy selling the house? Grow up! It’s not your house.

  • Lot’s of commenters here know nothing and are just writing from their emotions. Let me paraphrase the law and I’m a current homeowner that rents out a basement unit. I comply with all the laws and actually have some really great tenants.

    1) You need a Certificate of Occupancy for the rental unit in the current owners name which will also require a Business License

    2) You need to register the unit with the city and have it inspected. You are not allowed to legally raise the rent without going through this process.

    The you can legally rent the unit. Now this month-to-month tenancy means absolutely nothing. You can only EVICT a tenant for very few reasons. Specifically the only real reason is non-payment of rent. You can’t just decide to raise the rent a insane amount if you don’t have the unit registered. That is considered a illegally rent increase now even if the unit is not subject to rent increase laws.

    In this particular circumstance the owners must give the tenant notice of the intention to sell. Then when they do receive an offer the tenant has first right of refusal. This allows the tenant to buy the unit/house but has nothing to do with their occupancy.

    In this case the owners can not simply tell the tenant to move unless the tenant wishes to do so. If they are paying their rent there is no basis legally to require the tenant to move.

    Even if the new owners want to occupy the unit for personal use they CAN NOT start that action until they own the property and move all the appropriate documentation into their name; CofO and registration etc after they close. At that point it is a 90 day notice for the tenant to vacate. Still then if the tenant does not move out in that 90 days then the new landlords will need to go through the eviction process to remove the tenant based on the personal use clause. Then at that point the landlord can not rent the unit for a period of 1 year. If the tenant can prove the landlord is acting in bad faith he can sue and can gain occupancy back into the unit.

    These are the laws our liberal council has passed. Just because someone wants to sell their house is not basis for eviction of a tenant. If you guys don’t like it try voting republican once in a while or don’t rent your basement units.

    My advice to this tenant is get in touch with the Tenant Advocacy office and if you don’t want to move you don’t need to. Just keep on paying you rent on the agreed upon rate at all times. If the new owners try to raise you rent make sure the unit is registered with the city before you start paying anything extra otherwise as noted it is a illegal increase.

    And yes it may not be “your house” but it is currently your home.

  • Some of y’all are nuts.

    What’s wrong with the tenant wanting to know their rights?

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