A rented residence has a lot of benefits over an owned one. For example, renters enjoy low maintenance and repair costs (most maintenance duties are shouldered by the landlord) as well as career and financial flexibility (since they can easily move if they change jobs or if their financial situation changes). But on the other hand, renting has its own sets of disadvantages. They’re strictly bound by the terms of their lease, for one, and there is no strict guarantee that a lease will be renewed after it expires.
One of the awkwardest situations to be in when you’re a renter is when your landlord needs to sell the house while you’re still living in it. This can be confusing to a lot of people. One might be tempted to ask “Is this legal?” “Should I move out ASAP?” “Can my landlord really do this?”
The thing is- it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been living in the property for a month or a decade- the owner has the sole right to sell the property as they wish.
But don’t pack your bags and bolt for the door just yet. Fortunately enough, there are various laws (which varies from state by state) that provides for the protection of tenant rights in this scenario. Rent laws are very tenant-friendly in most states, and you can be assured that you will have enough time to get your affairs in order before moving out.
So, your landlord puts up the house you’re renting on sale, and a willing buyer comes along shortly after. Your landlord informs you that a sale will probably happen in the near future. What should you do in this scenario?
Well, as a renter, the first thing you should know is that you are protected by tenancy rights, as mandated by law. Your landlord can’t just kick you out at will. They have to abide by the rules that are provided by the state you’re living in.
Your next action then is to check the kind of lease agreement that you have with your landlord:
1. For those under an oral agreement
“If it’s not in writing, then it’s not binding” as the popular saying goes. Hopefully, you’re not under this unfortunate demographic, but yes, tenants that are under verbal, non-written lease agreements exist. However, they still have tenant rights, and their lease is still legally binding (despite what the aforementioned quote said). It’s just harder to prove in court and are very open to misinterpretation.
2. For those with a month-to-month lease
A month-to-month lease simply means that your lease expires every 30 days after which you get to decide if it should be renewed (subject to your landlord’s approval, of course). For landlords, this is the simplest of situations that they would have to deal with if they decide to sell their home in San Antonio. All they would have to do is to provide their tenants with a written notice at least 30-days before they want their tenant to move out.
It’s important to note that the length of time between when the notice sent out and the tenant’s expected moving out date varies from state to state (though the most common period is 30 days). For example, those renting in California and who are living in their rented property for at least a year should be notified about their lease termination at least 60 days or two months before their moving out date.
But if the landlord decides not to terminate your lease and have you move out after the sale, then your lease will still be valid under your new landlord. The law stipulates that the new landlord should honor the lease you made with the previous owner until they say otherwise or if the lease expires.
3. For those under a fixed term lease
Now things can get a lot messier if you are under a fixed term lease. A probable scenario is this: your landlord suddenly sells the home you’re renting, but you still have six months left to go in your lease agreement. What should your next course of action be in this scenario.
The first thing to do is to read the rental agreement that you’ve signed when you started your lease. This kind of agreement is a legal contract, and as such, often provides solutions to all kinds of possible conflicts that should arise in situations like this. This is the reason why potential renters are always advised to read their rental agreements thoroughly from beginning to end before signing it.
Should there be no clause in the rental agreement (e.g it might have been left out because both the landlord and tenant didn’t think it was important at the time of writing) that defines what both parties should do, state laws on tenancy still prevails.
In Washington, the lease remains valid even if the rental property gets sold. Your old landlord is required to provide you your new landlord’s name and address, and they are also obliged to transfer the security deposit (if any) that you’ve provided to the new property owner before they sell the house with tenants in it. Your new landlord is also required to honor the lease that you’ve made with the previous honor.
The same thing goes for Illinois too. Lease agreements are in full effect and cannot be changed in under any circumstances even if the property has already changed hands. The new landlord can’t impose a different rent or force the tenant to vacate the property.
In California, renters have the right to stay until their lease runs out. Tenants also have the option to ask for a relocation allowance from their landlord if the latter wants them to move out before their lease expiration date.
To summarize, here are some important points to remember:
*Your tenant rights hold superiority over property rights. The law is very protective of tenants, and it will see to it that you are protected and given enough time to move out.
*You can ask for compensation. Chances are, your landlord will be showing off the property to potential buyers. You can renegotiate the rent price if you are inconvenienced by this.
*You have a right to a relocation allowance if your landlord wants you out ASAP. Your landlord should provide just compensation if they want you to move before the stipulated expiration of your lease.