Selling a Home With Tenants In It: What to Know
Selling a home with tenants in it is a topic that often arises with the listing and purchasing of real estate. While it is common to sell property that is occupied with tenants, both buyers and sellers should be aware of certain topics that often come up in such matters.
Tenancies Remain After the Sale of Rental Property
The most common question I get about selling a home with tenants is whether a tenancy remains after the new owner purchases the rental property. In other words, can a new owner of rental property immediately terminate existing tenancy agreements?
Tenancy agreements, whether they are through a lease or a tenancy at will (“month-to-month”) do not end simply because property is sold.
This needs to be kept in mind before committing to a property sale, if a property must be sold vacant.
If a purchase agreement requires a property to be sold without tenants in it, this needs to be addressed by the seller, either through an agreement with the tenants or an eviction. The mere sale of property, on its own, will not require any existing tenants to vacate the property.
Be Extremely Careful With Security Deposits
All landlords need to exercise extreme care with Massachusetts’ security deposit law. This law regulates the acceptance, holding, and return of a security deposit, and comes with severe penalties if violated.
This law also has specific, detailed requirements for handling a security deposit when property is sold. Both buyers and sellers of rental property need to be aware of these requirements and how to properly handle such a deposit in these circumstances.
Be Mindful of the Responsibilities of Being A Landlord
Landlording comes with specific duties and responsibilities, including (but not limited to) prohibitions on housing discrimination, a duty to keep rental property habitable, and a requirement to use a formal eviction process should a landlord need to evict a tenant.
Failure to comply with any of these requirements can be highly problematic for a landlord.
These responsibilities are the same regardless of whether the buyer of property with tenants intends to remain as a landlord, or no longer wishes to keep renting after the tenants leave.
As with most legal matters, the best way to avoid problems is to prevent them in the first place. If you need assistance with a landlord-tenant matter, contact me for a consultation.