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What can tenants do if their building was sold?

Authored By: D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center

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FAQ

What do tenants need to know if their landlord sells their building?

 A tenant still has the right to continue living in their home when the home is sold. The new owner of the building must become the tenant’s new landlord.  Generally, a tenant also has the right to stay under their original lease terms with their new landlord.  

If a new owner claims to have a legal reason to evict the tenant, they must give the tenant a written notice describing why they can evict the tenant. The tenant has the right to fight that eviction in court. 

The sale of a building generally does not change a tenant’s lease.  The new owner becomes the tenant’s new landlord. If a tenant has a current lease, those terms (including the rent amount, the pet policy, etc.) will continue until the lease term ends. The new landlord cannot raise the rent in the middle of a lease term, even if the building is sold. After the lease ends, when your lease becomes month to month, the new landlord can legally raise the rent by providing 30 days notice in writing unless an affordable housing program prevents such a rent increase.  

Foreclosure Sales

If a building was sold in a foreclosure sale, the purchaser of the foreclosed building also becomes the new landlord of the tenants that live in the building. However, the terms of existing leases may not apply. The new landlord can legally raise rent the with 30 days notice in writing unless an affordable housing program prevents such a rent increase. 

Rent stabilization, often known as rent control, is one of the affordable housing programs in DC. If a building is rent stabilized (aka rent controlled), there are rules about how much a landlord can raise the rent and how often. To find out if your building is rent stabilized, you can look up your address in the Department of Housing and Community Development records at https://dhcd.dc.gov/service/search-rent-control-records-online or contact the Office of the Tenant Advocate.  

Attached is a letter that you can send to the new owner of the property or the new owner's lawyer.  In the District of Columbia, a property owner cannot evict a tenant just because the property was sold at foreclosure.  (This is a letter for tenants only.  It does not apply to former owners.)

Last Review and Update: Jan 11, 2024
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