One fine morning you wake up and see a ‘For Sale’ signpost in the front lawn of your rented home. Scary dream? Well, it can turn true as your landlord has all the rights to sell the property he owns- plausibly leaving you with the daunting task of moving to a new location.
Nevertheless, instead of panicking right away, gather thorough information on your rights and responsibilities as a renter, depending on your state laws. Here are things you definitely need to know to protect your rights as a tenant.
Prior notice for inspection of your rental to prospective buyers
If you have good relations with your landlord, both parties can come to an amicable understanding for the house inspections. However, if there are any issues, you must know where you stand legally so that you can deny any irrational request from your landlord or seek compensation for any wrongdoing.
The landlord must provide a written notice 24 hours in advance when they want to show your home to potential buyers. The inspection should be carried out by agents during day time, causing least inconvenience to the tenants.
If the landlord wishes to take a photograph of the home to show it to potential buyers, it is at your discretion that the photographer comes accompanied with the landlord. It is advisable to remove any valuable and personal items before the pictures are taken, as you wouldn’t want to advertise your expensive artifacts along with your address.
Know when you have to move
First things first, as per majority state laws, your landlord must give you a written notice before putting up your place on sale or even if he plans to convert the apartment into a condo.
Once you receive the notice, check the termination date for your lease contract. If you are on a monthly lease contract, you may get 30 days notice to vacate, as per most state laws, except for Washington State, which gives a 90 day window to move.
If you have a long-term lease, like annual or bi-annual, you have the right to stay in your rental until the lease expires. Have a look at the landlord and tenant laws in your state for precise information.
Favorably, most states protect long-term lease renters, requiring the new property owner to take over the current lease, without having to sign a new lease. This makes the current lease valid for same time, without the rent being increased further by the new owner, and no additional deposit required to be paid by the renter.
Knowing your tenant rights
You are entitled to your basic tenant rights while you are still living there. For example, you cannot be denied water or electricity supply, the landlord cannot enter your rental without notice, except for emergencies, he cannot begin renovation work that interferes with your rental space and causes inconvenience to you.
If the current or new landlord breaches any of these warranties, you can seek legal advice from a tenant lawyer or contact local housing authority for help. If the conditions worsen, you may withhold rent until the problem is fixed or terminate your lease and move out.
Tenant Relocation Allowance
Though quite uncommon, but your landlord might be obliged to pay you for relocation if you are compelled to move out from the rental due to a sale. For example, in San Francisco, if the renters are forced to move out of the rental due to property sale, they are entitled to $5210.91 per tenant under Ellis Act, also known as relocation allowance. This is included in your state’s landlord and tenants laws.
Security Deposit Return
Once you move out of the property, your landlord must return your security deposit within 14-60 days, depending on the state laws. Make your move a smooth transition by removing all your belongings, cleaning the property and returning the keys to the landlord.
So, if you are facing the situation of your rental being sold, always remember that the laws provide you with sufficient protection and your lease would be honored by new owners so that you do not have to suffer any major inconvenience.