When a landlord sells a building in D.C., tenants are usually allowed the opportunity to purchase the building and become homeowners, or to negotiate other benefits. However, landlords are using a loophole in the tenants’ first right to purchase law under the Rental Housing Conversion and Sale Act that allows landlords to sell their buildings without allowing tenants the opportunity to buy them. The loophole exempts owners of federally subsidized buildings who are refinancing a federally subsidized mortgage from the tenants’ right to purchase law. When this happens, tenants can be forced out of their homes by new owners who often redevelop their buildings and raise the rents.

Councilman Phil Mendelson (D-At large) introduced a bill (15-133) earlier this year to close this loophole and ensure that all tenants are guaranteed the first right to purchase. The bill had its first hearing in October and is now being revised by the Consumer and Regulatory Affairs committee. If passed, this bill would be an important step in protecting tenants’ rights.