Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act Reform Passes as Oversight Process Approaches Its Midpoint

The Council conducts its oversight responsibilities on an ongoing basis, but this time of year, there’s oodles of oversight. Just as performance oversight is nearly wrapped up, and prior to budget oversight beginning, the Council continues to plug along with its other primary responsibility: legislation.

At the most recent Legislative Meeting, the 21st of the Council Period that runs 2017 to 2018, the legislative item that filled Chamber seats and councilmember e-mail boxes was an effort to exclude single-family homes from the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA).  TOPA primarily requires renters in multifamily buildings be given the opportunity to purchase their building in the event of a sale. The status of single-family homes was unclear, with some asserting that these tenants were no different than their multifamily building dwelling brethren. Others asserted that TOPA rights were not intended to apply to single-family homes, and that the ambiguity in the law was resulting in potentially available rental units being kept off the market. In the end, after consensus amendments were approved at the earlier Committee of the Whole meeting, the measure was approved on the first of two necessary votes by a 10 to 2 margin, with one abstention.

In other action at the meeting, a measure was passed unanimously on the second of two necessary votes that would change the default selection for DC employees’ deferred contribution retirement accounts from “opt in” to “opt out.” Another measure, passed on an emergency basis so that it can become effective immediately, requires the United Medical Center board of directors to maintain electronic records of its meetings for at least five years, and to attempt to reconstruct records of meetings in the recent past. An additional measure which allows the sitting Executive Director of the Board of Elections to remain in that role despite not being a District resident, as required by law.

Earlier in the day, the Council presented a Ceremonial Resolution to Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post journalist who was imprisoned for a year and a half in an Iranian prison, and whose imprisonment became a rallying cry for journalists and human rights advocates worldwide. He is now a DC resident.

Legislation introduced today, if ultimately passed, would:

  • Dedicate a quarter cent of the District’s sales tax revenues to arts uses
  • Remove responsibility for “Special Capital Projects” from the Department of General Services and place it instead in a standalone office
  • Protect Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) rights through bankruptcy declarations by building owners
  • Allow drivers to provide electronic proof of insurance to law enforcement officials
  • Express the Sense of the Council to Maryland and Virginia legislators indicating a desire to prohibit assault weapons
  • Initiate a biennial review of all District commissions and boards to examine their responsibilities and utility
  • Update the District’s mental health information disclosure law
  • Require the board of directors of the United Medical Center to maintain electronic records of its meetings for five years, and to attempt to re-create the records of meetings in the recent past

For a full list of all votes taken at the meeting, please click here.