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Tenant Purchase Technical Assistance Program Overview


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Staff at the ULS Tenant Purchase Program have been helping tenants buy and co-op members   improve their multi-family properties for over 20 years in the District of Columbia. Currently, the ULS Tenant Purchase Program is focused on two major program areas: Tenant Purchase Development Consulting Services, and Affordable Housing Cooperative Asset Management.  ULS currently provides services to eight affordable housing cooperatives, representing 176-units of affordable housing in 4 wards of the city.  If your building is up for sale or you currently live in a cooperative that needs advice or support, please call us to discuss your project.  

Tenant Purchase Development Consulting Services  

Since the 1980’s tenants in the District of Columbia have had the legal right, under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), to purchase their building from their landlord when it is placed for sale.  DC law also provides eligible tenant associations with the opportunity to receive free technical assistance and apply for low cost financing to purchase their building. Several organizations, including Housing Counseling Services (HCS) and the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), can help tenants exercise their rights by helping organize tenant associations and introducing tenants to attorneys and other real estate professionals.  For tenant associations with low and moderate income members who are interested in preserving their affordable housing, ULS can provide real estate consulting services, including helping tenants identify renovation priorities, prepare financial feasibility analysis, and apply for grants and loans.  During the past 20+ years, ULS has helped dozens of tenant associations buy their buildings or partner with experienced rental housing developers. 

Affordable Housing Cooperative Asset Management

When it comes to running an affordable housing cooperative, making daily operating and budgeting decisions can be challenging, but planning for 5 to 10 years in the future can seem impossible. That is where ULS Affordable Housing Cooperative Asset Management can help. Our 20+ years of affordable housing development and community organizing experience gives us unique insight into the life cycle and challenges faced by these developments.  By focusing on 3 critical issues to co-op sustainability, we ensure that our clients stay on top of these issues before problems develop.

1. Physical
ULS believes that taking care of the Cooperative’s largest asset – the building, is critical. To be successful, the co-op board of directors must understand the physical condition of their building and be willing to re-invest in the building. At ULS we make sure our clients understand the repair needs and remaining useful life of the building and its individual systems so they can make financial plans today for the repairs that will be required in the future.

 2. Financial
Properly managing the Cooperative’s financial affairs is the board of director’s job #1.  ULS works to make sure its clients develop the strategies and habits they need to reduce costs, maintain full occupancy, and set aside money to address future repair needs.  Also, ULS encourages its clients to invest in energy efficiency improvements, and has helped several co-ops obtain energy efficiency rebates from the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) in recent years. 

3. Legal
During 2016, ULS partnered with the DC non-profit organization Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP) on a successful grant application to the DC Bar Foundation to provide free coordinated financial and legal services to existing limited equity cooperatives.  NLSP legal services may include assistance with third party contracts, assistance updating co-op bylaws and other governing documents, and educational sessions on board fiduciary duties and other board responsibilities.