Rights of Tenants When Landlord Sells House

When a landlord sells a house that a tenant is currently living in, it can become a stressful time for all involved. When you know what your rights are, however, you'll be able to better plan for what needs to happen and get the most money back from your deposit. For renters who have a valid lease that has not yet expired, most communities require that lease to be honored to its fullest extent. That means a tenant may need to vacate at the end of the rental agreement, but cannot be required to leave before its termination.

For tenants on a month-to-month lease, however, it is a much different story.

Month-to-Month Tenants May Only Have 20 Days To Move

Once a property sells and comes under the management of a different landlord, they have the ability to make decisions based off of local landlord/tenant law. For month-to-month renters, this means a 20 day notice may be all that is required to terminate an agreement and require the rental property to be vacated.

A person with a month-to-month agreement can be given notice to vacate with no reason at all.

This is why it is important to have a long-term leasing agreement in place as a tenant as much as possible. In general, these extended leases in most communities require the new landlord to replace the old landlord and honor the conditions of the lease. This even applies to the security deposit, which may be directly transferred to the new landlord.

Upon the sale of a property, a security deposit may also be completely refunded to a tenant. If this occurs, the new landlord may require the payment of a security deposit, but it cannot be for more than what the previous landlord charged.

Basic Services Must Still Be Provided By a Landlord

A property often sells because the new owner wants to develop the rental unit into a more profitable venture. Sometimes this means that the landlord may shut off water, shut off power, or create security or safety risks in order to force a tenant to move out. If this occurs, some states allow for tenants to withhold rent or terminate the lease with prejudice, meaning that they can get their security deposit back and sue the new property owner for damages.

To avoid this issue, some new landlords may ask their tenants to sign what is called an “estoppel agreement.” This agreement is proof that the tenant understands the terms of their lease and documents any oral agreements that they may have had with their previous landlord. These agreements are binding and if something isn't included on them, they may not be able to be enforced. A tenant cannot be forced to sign an estoppel agreement.

Even if a property sells, a tenant still has rights. By knowing your rights, you will be able to make sure you keep your property protected and your home secure.
Posted on Aug 01, 2014


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