Property Management, Tenant Selection, Real Estate News & Tips

Renters’ Rights When Your Landlord Sells Your Rental Home

By on June 16, 2017 in Education with 11 Comments


selling a rental propertyQuestion: I just found out my landlord is selling my rental house – what does this mean for my housing situation?


If you rent a home and you discover your landlord is selling the property, don’t start panicking (or packing) just yet. If you signed a lease agreement, your current and future landlord will have to honor the terms.

Term Lease Agreement

A term lease agreement is a housing agreement between landlord and tenant for a designated amount of time, typically 6-months to one year. If you learn about the sale of your rental property, and you still have a few months left on your lease agreement, your new landlord will not be able to kick you out.

When a buyer purchases a renter occupied home, he must agree to take over the lease and honor the terms the tenant signed. A buyer can ask the renter to sign a new lease with him, but technically the tenant does not have to.

Exceptions to Honoring a Term Lease

The only exception would be if your lease agreement has special conditions regarding a property sale. If your state allows it, your lease could contain language that says something along the lines of, “in the event of the sale, the current lease agreement will be void once a new owner takes over the property”. While it is possible that your lease could have this type of property sale clause, they are not very common.

Another exception would be if you and your landlord mutually agree to end the lease agreement, and you agree to move out on a designated date. In these cases, the tenant can have some leverage to ask for relocation fees from the landlord, since you are doing them a favor by moving out.

Month-to-Month Lease Agreements

If your current lease agreement is a month-to-month tenancy, you have less security when it comes to staying at the property during a sale.

If your landlord wants you to move out prior to an official sale, he merely has to provide you with proper notice to end tenancy and move out on a specified date. Most states require a landlord to give a tenant anywhere from 30-60 notice informing a tenant that tenancy will end and they need to move out. Some cities have even more lenient timelines, for example, landlords in Portland, OR, must give their tenants 90-days notice to vacate.

Remember, these notices to vacate are not evictions. They are friendly terms of ending a rental tenancy with your current landlord. While it can be shocking to learn you have to move, that is one of the realities of being a renter, your landlord can choose to sell his rental property at any time.

How to Handle the Sale Process

Talk to your landlord. Hopefully, your landlord will be upfront about his intentions to sell the property and keep you informed as to whether he hopes to sell to another investor who will keep the property as a rental. He could be selling the property for any number of reasons, and the more friendly you are during the process, the more likely he will be to encourage the new buyer to keep you as a long-term tenant.

Working with a Real Estate Agent

A potentially frustrating part of living in a rental that is in the process of being sold is dealing with showings, inspections, and any property upgrades seller decides to complete the sale. These types of typical selling activities can be a huge disruption to a renter who wants to live in peace.

A lot of tenants feel uncomfortable with the idea of strangers constantly coming through their home during open houses and showings. Unfortunately, there is little a tenant can do to complain about this part of the process. Your landlord must give you 24 hours notice (or whatever the notice requirement for your state is) before a real estate agent, inspector, or anyone shows up and enters your property – but he does not have to accommodate your request to always be present during these events.   Try to work with your landlord to come up with a solution where you feel comfortable and your landlord is still able to sell his home. Remember the more accommodating you are during the sale process, the faster it could be sold and this whole ordeal will be over.

It is not acceptable for a real estate agent to just show up and enter the property unannounced. They must provide advanced noticed according to your state laws for entering the property. If this keeps happening, you need to speak with your landlord so he can relay the laws to the agent who may be unaware.  Here are some tips for agents about the Best Practices for Selling Renter-Occupied Homes.

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About the Author

About the Author:

Kaycee manages marketing and media relations for Rentec Direct, bringing a unique perspective to the world of property management and proudly shares industry news, products, and trends within the community.



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There Are 11 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Nick says:

    My wife and I were just informed by the landlord that they intend to sell and that they will not be extending our lease which expires 12/31. We have found a new place that is available but our current landlord won’t let us break the lease early in order to move into the new place. Is there any legal grounds that would allow us to move early without penalty? We don’t want to be moving through the holidays if we can do anything about it. Thank you for any advice!

    • Hi Nick,

      Most states will not let a tenant break the lease early if the property is being sold. The buyer will have to honor the current lease terms but does not need to extend the lease agreement once it expires. It totally sucks that your current landlord is not being reasonable about helping accommodate your situation so you can move out and make the holidays easier. I would just try to keep reasoning with your landlord and remind them of the benefits of showing an empty home, vs a renter-occupied home.

      Alternatively, how do you know that the new buyer will not want to rent out the house? You could be able to rent your current home with a new lease agreement with the new owners?

  2. Andrew says:

    My wife and I live in an apartment that has been sold. The realtor added a clause before our original signing while we were out of the country getting married that says we must vacate 90 days after notice from our landlord that it has been sold, but in the email, mentioned we have ‘up to 90 days’.

    The building was apparently sold before we even signed the lease according to a realtor neighbor, but the landlord has only mentioned it was sold this week (just 3 months after moving in) so we are preparing to move in the next 30 days to rid ourselves of this place. However, the lease agreement is vague in that it says we need to vacate in 90 days, so the landlord is saying we need to stay the full 90 days when the email from the realtor clarified that we have ‘up to 90 days’ to vacate. To clarify, the realtor was the one who drafted the lease agreement.

    My question is, do we have any legal ground to get out of this lease as soon as possible rather than wait the full 90 days like the landlord is insisting? The landlord is well known in the area for being terrible and trying to sue for everything. Ex: sue the neighborhood for trying to remove their vehicle from a no parking zone, planting her own trees in a common area and threatening to sue for damage if they were to be removed…

    I suspect the landlord only rented out the apartment because they wanted a few months of rent between selling the apartment and closing.

    • Check your state laws. Some state’s allow renters to break the lease once a property has been sold. Other states do not have statutes about renter’s rights when a property sells. I don’t think it matters who drafted the lease agreement, if you signed it and the landlord signed it.

  3. charles says:

    Hi we just found out that the gentleman that rented us the house had no right to do so we have a 6 month signed lease the house was foreclosed on he told us not to worry about it now we have to move should he be responsible for the lease amount or anything

  4. Jannie says:

    Is there any state law that requires a notice in advance before a landlord sells the property? I live in a rental house, and he just sold it to his son.

    • I am unfamiliar with any state laws that require an owner to provide advanced notice before a house is sold. You would be entitled to advanced warning if any conditions in the lease agreement are changing, like if the rent is increasing or if the new owner wants you to sign a new lease.

      If you are on a term lease (like 6-months or a year) the new owner has to legally take over the lease and continue to uphold the lease agreement terms you agreed to. If you are a month-to-month tenant the new owner can change conditions of the lease if proper notice is given. The notice timeline depends on your state and local laws.

  5. Jannie says:

    What is the timeline to get my deposit back from the owner who just sold the house I rent?

    • If the lease is transferring to the new owner you will not get your deposit back, the deposit will transfer to the new owner as well. If you are worried, ask your landlord for a written notice stating that the deposit you paid on xxx date is being transfer to the new owner and keep it for your records.

      If you are moving out of the property because the property sold, you will recieve the deposit back based on your state laws. States typically require deposit refunds to be issued 10-40 days after you move out.

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