Legal Alert

Bowser Extends Public Emergency to January 7, 2022

by Roger D. Winston and Shanice McClelland
October 14, 2021

On October 7, 2021, Mayor Muriel Bowser issued an order extending the Public Emergency in Washington D.C., until January 7, 2022. However, this extension did not impact the tolling of timelines under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA).

On March 11, 2020, Mayor Bowser deployed two distinct administrative tools in response to the coronavirus health crisis, the Public Emergency (PE) and the Public Health Emergency (PHE).

The PE granted Mayor Bowser and District officials the authority to take certain actions in furtherance of the health, public safety, and consumer protection of District residents without the standard approvals and protocols, on an emergency basis.

Similarly, the PHE granted the District’s Department of Health the authority to issue health directives in the same manner. One such action was established in the COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (the Act), enacted by the D.C. Council on March 17, 2020. Among other things, the Act stipulated that all timelines under TOPA would be tolled through the end of the PHE and for 30 days thereafter. This tolling under TOPA was subsequently codified at D.C. Code § 42-3405.10b, and as mentioned in our prior alert, hampered the ability of owners to transfer multifamily properties during the PHE.

Previously, the PE and PHE were extended simultaneously on several occasions. However, the Mayor's order of July 24, 2021, declared an end to the PHE, but continued the PE through October 8, 2021. After the PHE expired on July 24, 2021, TOPA timelines resumed 30 days later, on August 24, 2021.

Mayor Bowser’s October 7, 2021 order, extended the expiration of the PE from October 8, 2021, through January 7, 2022, but it did not reinstate the PHE. As such, Mayor Bowser’s October 7 Order does not impact the tolling of TOPA.  

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