Expertise, Options, Accountability
With millions of dollars in Washington, D.C. real estate experience, District Community Development works with tenants and their communities that have been presented an offer of sale through the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). District Community Development is able to effectively evaluate these transactions where TOPA is applicable and present options to tenants.
The TOPA process can be confusing, but our team has experience with exercising TOPA rights and understands how to successfully navigate the complex TOPA process. We pride ourselves on our integrity and following through on our commitments. We have helped numerous groups of tenants across the city and have a solid track record of success.
The District of Columbia’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) has long pitted tenants against landlords and Realtors. The process is often misunderstood on all sides and tenants are frequently misled or uninformed of their rights.
District Community Development takes a different approach to TOPA by embracing the process. Since we do not represent the buyer or seller in these transactions, we work directly with tenants to acquire real estate through the TOPA process.
District Community Development engages tenants with care, consideration and compassion. Each tenant’s situation is different and we listen to these needs. We offer packages that may include, but are not limited to, cash payments, free and/or stabilized rent, property upgrades, relocation assistance, condo conversion discounts and more.
Got questions? We've got answers
What is District Community Development?
District Community Development is a D.C. based company that works with District tenants to purchase real estate that is subject to the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). District Community Development can provide tenants with documents and forms that help them understand and exercise their rights, but District Community Development does not directly represent tenants. All tenants are advised to seek independent counsel and District Community Development is not affiliated with the Department of Community Housing and Development.
Why didn’t my landlord or their real estate agent tell me that I had rights?
Your Landlord or your landlord's agent should have sent you the Offer of Sale and/or Right of First Refusal, which is considered sufficient legal notice of your rights for the sale of your home. Landlords and their real estate agents do not represent your interests and are often looking to complete the sale of your home as quickly as possible. Landlords are prohibited from retaliating against their tenants in any way if tenants decide to exercise their rights.
How do I exercise my TOPA Rights?
Registering a 'Statement of Interest' with the landlord and the Department of Housing and Community Development allows tenants to receive more information about their property and negotiate in good faith for an additional 2-4 months after receiving the Offer of Sale. During this period, tenants may choose to assign their rights to another party for valuable consideration. If the landlord, tenant or assignee do not reach terms during this period, the landlord is permitted to proceed with the sale of the home to the current contracted buyer. Contact us right away for a free, no-committment consultation.
Will my rent increase?
If the current buyer is purchasing the rental property in their own personal name, and they will own less than (5) rental units in D.C., they may be eligible to file for an exemption from rent control (42-3501.01 et seq).
Why haven't I heard about TOPA?
The TOPA Law was passed in 1980 and is unique to Washington D.C. The process can be confusing, and many tenants are unaware of their rights and how to exercise them.
How much are my tenant rights worth?
Every property that is subject to TOPA is different. The sales price, amongst other factors, determines what District Community Development can offer to tenants. Call us immediately to discuss your needs and determine the value of your rights.
If I want to take a cash payment for my rights, how quickly will I get paid?
District Community Development structures our agreements with multiple payments and clear timelines. These plans are specifically catered to each different tenant situation. A typical payment scenario consists of an initial payment upon signing an assignment and agreement, a secondary payment when a contract is ratified with the landlord, and a third payment when a sale is completed and/or the property is made vacant.
I have already signed something that says I won't purchase my home. Do I still have rights?
Please contact District Community Development so that we can determine whether we can make you an offer for your TOPA rights.
Do I have to leave my home?
If another buyer intends to take possession of the property for their own personal use and occupancy he/she can give you a legal notice to vacate within 90 days (42-3505.01(d)). However, District Community Development listens to tenant needs and in many instances can present several options, which may include allowing you to stay in your home after assigning your rights for a longer period of time.
Thank you for helping me exercise my tenant rights when my building was being sold by the bank.
Tenant in Brightwood Park
Our landlord tried to sell our home to a developer without us knowing. We got help registering a statement of interest letter and obtained more time to stay in our home.
Tenant in Brentwood
District Community Development helped my roommate and I exercise our TOPA rights when our landlord was trying to push us out and sell the house we rented. They were able to get us more time to stay in the house and made a fair offer for our rights.
Tenant in Petworth
Chris Burns - PrIncipal
Chris is the founder of District Community Development and is a top-producing real estate agent in Washington, D.C. Chris is an expert in the complexities and processes of TOPA transactions, and has been involved in over 45+ TOPA deals since 2013. Chris was born in D.C., is a resident of Columbia Heights, and acquired his current home by exercising his TOPA rights when the landlord wanted to sell the property.
James Barnett - VP of Community Outreach
James is the main point of contact for District Community Development and is a resource for tenants undergoing the TOPA process. James is a graduate of Georgetown University's MBA program with a concentration in Real Estate and he currently lives in Logan Circle.