From the Forum – Owner re-occupying my apartment — when does the 90 day clock start?

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Owner re-occupying my apartment — when does the 90 day clock start?

“Hey folks, I have what I think is a quick question. The owner of my unit who I am renting from has sold the unit. The new owner is going to move in themselves, so they are giving me 90 days notice to vacate. (I’ve already waived my right of first refusal, we don’t want to buy the place ourselves.)

My question is, when does that 90 day clock start? When the sale closes and is final, or some time before? The new owner has said I have until May 31 to leave, but he doesn’t expect the sale to close until March 31, which would seem to indicate I have until the end of June, not end of May, for my 90 days.

So, when does the clock start on this? Thanks!”

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26 Comment

  • I believe it’s 90 days from the day it goes under contract.
    From DC Code: § 42-3505.01(e):
    A housing provider may recover possession of a rental unit where the housing provider has in good faith contracted in writing to sell the rental unit or the housing accommodation in which the unit is located for the immediate and personal use and occupancy by another person, so long as the housing provider has notified the tenant in writing of the tenant’s right and opportunity to purchase as provided in Chapter 34 of this title. The housing provider shall serve on the tenant a 90-day notice to vacate in advance of the housing provider’s action to recover possession of the rental unit. No person shall demand or receive rent for any rental unit which has been repossessed under this subsection during the 12-month period beginning on the date on which the rental unit was originally repossessed by the housing provider.

    • I don’t think it’s from time of contract (that just doesn’t make sense, since a lessee wouldn’t know when the contract is signed). I think the code is clear that it’s 90-days from time of notice (“shall serve….90-day notice….in advance of….action to recover).

      • From the snippet posted above, the tenant has 90 days from notice. The owner may give the tenant valid notice once the unit is under contract. So, if the owner gives the tenant notice as soon as allowed (the day the unit goes under contract), then the tenant has 90 days from that date.

  • You should head to the office of the Tenant Advocate to get this cleared up – I went recently when my apartment was sold and they were really helpful! The hardest part about meeting with them was finding their office in the Reeves Center.

    • definitely, get city officials and lawyers involved and make the poor family that bought their new home’s lives miserable and stressful.

      • Going to OTA doesn’t get any legal action involved unless you want it to. The TOPA process is complicated, so I just went there to make sure that my rights were what I thought they were. It was a 20 minute convo and I left feeling like I had a better grasp of what was going on. Nothing adversarial about that.

      • I am so in agreement with your sentiment! Why IS this renter making this issue – it is a RENTAL unit, sales happen. Move on move on with your life…you have 90 days; everyone involved with you seems to have treated you as fairly as they knew how!!

        • +1. Some of these questions and comments really baffle me when the commonsense (and decent, btw) approach is so obvious. You’ve got 90 days to start finding a place, which as noted below, probably will be much cheaper for the renter than waiting until the high season for DC rentals. Just consider yourself on notice now. Even if the renter takes legal action and wins, he’s just buying time — proper notice will issue, and the clock will be ticking at that point. If there’s a really compelling reason why 90 days is a burden, I’d suggest calling the new owners and asking about extending a few days or weeks at current rent. Sometimes people are reasonable if you make the effort to engage them in a reasonable manner yourself. But if you’re just being overly legalistic and opaque in an effort to procrastinate on looking for a new place (and I get it, maybe you won’t get a place you like as much, or rent won’t be the same, so it’s not JUST procrastination), in balance it really is a jerk move.

  • It’s 90 days from when you receive this notice: Technically, you need that document – not just an email, or some other form of written “notice”

    • It would be interesting to know if the OP got this notice – If not, they could make life very hard on the current/new owners.

      • You are awful people, what is wrong with you?

        DC has protective tenant laws for good reason, but if people abuse the laws they are likely to be changed.

        • What? If they did not get the official notice then why should they have to leave?

          • I’m just saying unless they have reason to doubt the intentions of the new owner, just be a reasonable person.

            Telling some poor family that just bought the house they have to wait another two months to occupy because they informed you but not with the proper form is an a-hole move.

          • no, it’s an a-hole move on the part of the new owners to not follow all the rules. the ‘poor family’ was well aware of the tenant prior to buying the house, and had every opportunity to become aware of the rules surrounding that. it’s not a hardship to be required to follow those rules that they knowingly bought into.

          • What is wrong with you people?

  • Meh, my advice, offer to move out earlier IF they will cover the last months rent or something similar. Sounds like you are moving either way, if you can get something out of it, may as well.

    Otherwise, yeah, follow along and you are required to be out 90 days after you are served that document.

    Remember, you are paying a higher rent because of how tenant friendly DC is, so you may as well take advantage of that fact.

    • Oh come on. You have 90 days to find a new apartment that’s plenty of time. It’s a total dick move to either insist you have to stay another month or try and extort the new owner (as Kyle suggests).

      Unless you have some really compelling reason for needing the extra month (e.g. you are giving birth to a child on or shortly before May 31st), just do the right thing.

  • I don’t understand why people get all legalistic about situations like this. Ninety days is a lot of notice, no matter when it starts. Find a new place to live and move out, rather than quibbling about when the 90 days starts.


  • 90 days really isn’t a whole lot of time. Moving might mean a significant rent increase as well as moving expenses. Someone on a school schedule — including parents — would likely have a much easier time of it with a moving date at the end of June than they would at the end of May. There are multiple reasons why getting 90 days notice to move could be onerous. It’s interesting that so many of you seem more sympathetic to the new owners — who obviously knew that there were tenants who would have to vacate — than to the current tenants, who are having to move because of someone else’s needs and timeline.

  • Move out as soon as you find something you like. It’s still “low season” for rentals, so prices are lower and there’s less competition. If you wait until May or June to move, prices will spike up due to new graduates moving to town for jobs, the influx of interns, etc. Trying to get a rental from June to September is just brutal, in terms of high prices and competition.

  • What about a situation where you want to sell a house that’s being rented, but to a party that intends to renovate and resell it? Does the same 90 day clause apply, or would the law treat the situation differently?

    I ask because I have some deadbeat renters next door in a house that’s been under contract for over a year.

    Please help!

    • Only way to get rid of renters is if the owner intends two occupy the dwelling. Otherwise no amount of notice will let you kick them out.

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