“Last year, the D.C. Council overwhelmingly passed D.C. Councilman Brandon Todd’s TOPA Single-Family Home Exemption Act, legislation that denied a pathway to home ownership for a group of District tenants much like the family of the woman challenging his Ward 4 Council seat.
For several years, Janeese Lewis George’s family rented a home on the 5500 block of 2nd Street in Northwest until their landlord sold the property under financial duress. Tenants of single-family homes, much like the one George’s family used to occupy, used TOPA, or the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, to place their bid for the property during a sale.
This bid, called a right-of-first-refusal, gave tenants of single-family home and apartments the chance to acquire a mortgage loan for the home within at least 90 days. Much to the chagrin of George, Todd’s bill eliminated that protection for renters living in single-family homes. In the months leading up to its passage, realtors and homeowners heavily lobbied the D.C. Council with concerns about exploitation.
But George said the D.C. Council didn’t seek the whole story about TOPA, including that of she and her husband who purchased a single-family home on 8th and Rittenhouse Streets in Northwest three years ago with the help of the law.”