TOPA Negotiating Rights in the District

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Topic: TOPA Negotiating Rights in the District

Announcements June 6, 2016 at 3:05 pm

TOPA Negotiating Rights in the District


Could someone explain to me how I can use my TOPA rights to negotiate lease terms with a landlord? Long story short, I rent from a condo owner, and am not being offered a chance to renew my lease because the owner wants to sell. I received an “offer” to buy–but it does not seem to comply with TOPA requirements. I am hoping the owner will let me out of the lease early when I find a new place, but that is seeming unlikely. Any words of advice? Thank you

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Your landlord cannot force you to leave because they want to sell. Further, leases renew automatically and become month to month leases in DC. There are only a few grounds on which your landlord can force you to leave: (1) major renovations which pose a safety risk (2) the owner wants to reoccupy the space for personal use and (3) failure of you to live up to legal lease terms (e.g., non payment). For #2, the owner cannot re-rent or sell the unit for one year after reoccupation. This is very important — the landlord cannot force you to leave after your lease ends except in these situations. That is DC law.

Ultimately, you have good leverage here. If you want to leave your current lease early, you can probably tell the landlord that you won’t leave (even after your lease ends). Landlords generally prefer to avoid listing their places when a tenant is in the unit. It generally lowers the value of the unit. That is your bargaining power. It’s strong enough that you might even be able to have your landlord pay for your move (and more) either now or after your original lease ends.

Finally DC has a tenants rights office. You should get in touch with them to confirm these details and educate yourself.

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