Tenant Purchase Technical Assistance

What does purchasing a building look like?

Since the 1980s, under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), tenants in the District of Columbia have had the legal right to organize and submit a matching offer to purchase their building from their landlord when it was offered for sale.   

To exercise their TOPA rights, tenants must form and incorporate a tenant association, send a letter of interest to purchase to their landlord, register their interest in purchasing with the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and choose between assigning their TOPA rights to a third-party buyer or buying their rental building and converting it to a cooperative or a condominium.  To buy and renovate their building, tenants must also create a building renovation plan and a long-term property operation plan, obtain financing, negotiate and finalize sales contracts and construction contracts, and supervise renovations and marketing of vacant apartments. Alternately, some tenant groups choose to negotiate the assignment of their TOPA rights to a third-party buyer/developer who can finance the purchase and renovation and continue to operate the building as a rental property.   


Where does the Tenant Purchase Assistance Program jump in?

ULS can provide development consultant services and help tenants make and implement a plan to purchase/acquire and renovate their building.  Due to large increases over the past ten years in the cost and time required for tenants to purchase and renovate their buildings, ULS has been able to start one new development consulting project every two to three years, including both new tenant purchase projects and the refinance and renovation of existing cooperatives. To provide comprehensive services, ULS typically does this work in partnership with other development consultants and service providers. Among other things, ULS can help tenants:  

  • Collect and analyze information on tenants’ goals for the property, tenants’ incomes and ability to pay back loans, building conditions and renovation needs, and property operating expenses.  
  • Hire an attorney to review the purchase contract and future loan and construction documents.  
  • Apply for financing and grants needed to purchase a building. 
  • Hire architects, engineers, property managers, contractors, and other professionals whose services are needed to buy, renovate, and operate a multi-family building.  
  • Approve a plan for the purchase, renovation, and operation of the property.  

Contact Us!

Are you in need of tenant purchase assistance? Contact us at (202) 547-4747 ext. 146 or amartin@uls-dc.org today!