Moving fast: What tenant rights when the landlord wants to sell the property

You live peacefully in your rental property and you made it feel like home – cosy and secure. But one day, this happy idyll is ruined by the news that your landlord is about to sell the rental property.

Oh, no! But how will this affect you?

Worry not for the Best Move Moving Company in London has the following answers,

What happens when the landlord wants to sell the property

The news might sound scary at first, but don’t worry. Technically, nothing will change for you.

Here are the options available for your landlord when about to sell:

  • Take the tenancy into consideration and sell the property as an “investment property”.
  • Receive an order for possession and evict you under Section 21 which can take several months to happen.
  • Ask you to move out of the accommodation voluntarily. Here, it’s best to negotiate for enough time to prepare. Check our detailed checklist to help you move out.

In most cases, people who buy a property with tenants in it intend to continue renting it out. It’s the perfect investment because there’s no need to use the service of a letting agency to find new tenants. The new owners save money and receive income simultaneously.

For you, the tenant, this means that you will keep your rights and have a new landlord. The owner (both old or new) can’t force you to leave because the property is being sold.

Tenants’ rights after the rental is sold

A signed lease is a legal document which protects your rights even with ownership change. Your tenancy won’t be terminated before, during or after the property sale.

1. You have the right to remain in the accommodation

This right is unaltered by the decision of your landlord to sell the property. Even if he tells you should leave prior to the sale, you can refuse to fulfil this request.

If the landlord pressures you to move out of the rental, any such actions might be considered as harassment and that’s a criminal offence.

You can stay in the property until the end of the fixed term period of the rental agreement. The new landlord has to accept this fact and let you live untroubled till that day comes.

Given that you have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST), the only thing your landlord can do is to hand you a Section 8 notice or a Section 21 notice, then get an order for repossession. This process usually lasts several months during which you can remain in the property.

2. You have the right to refuse access to any potential buyers

The lease entitles you to live serenely and untroubled in the rental property. This means that you can refuse to open the door for potential buyers or estate agents who want to take a look at the property.

According to the property experts HouseBuyers4u, the landlord can schedule an inspection and notify you 24 hours beforehand, but you still have the right to deny this request if either time or reason bothers you.

3. You have the right to live in a secure property

If anything related to your accommodation needs repair, you should inform the landlord. Then he or she should act on your report and arrange the repairs as soon as possible. Even if the sale process has already begun, your landlord is obliged to take action and maintain the safe conditions in the property.

These rights and obligations are thoroughly explained in the Landlord and Tenant Act from 1985. So if the landlord refuses to arrange the repairs, he or she can be held responsible for it in court.

4. You are not obliged to sign a new tenancy agreement

When the property changes ownership you may get a new contract signed by the new landlord. But this can be tricky as the new landlord might limit some of the rights covered by the old agreement.

There are several scenarios based on the type of tenancy:

  • Assured shorthold tenancy – your only option might be to sign the new agreement since the landlord has the right to give you a Section 21 notice if you refuse to do so.
  • Protected tenancy – the landlord has fewer rights to evict you and you can remain in the property as long as you want or until the end of the initial agreement (given that you pay your rent on a regular basis).

If you still consider signing a new tenancy agreement, we strongly advise you to consult a lawyer beforehand.

5. The terms of the tenancy agreement will remain the same after the sale

When a person acquires a property occupied by tenants, he or she inherits the rights and obligations attributed to the previous landlord. The new owner doesn’t have additional rights. He or she might be restricted by the mandatory Ground 6 “The landlord plans to use the property for nonresidential purposes ”. A simple example is a reconstruction of the property.

If you’re the buyer and you plan to make the property your first home, take a look at our blog, titled “Advice for first-time homeowners moving in”.

The new landlord can’t suddenly raise your rent either. He or she should act in accordance with the legal procedures.

How can a tenant end up evicted

The eviction process remains the same during the ownership change. If the old or new landlord wants to regain possession of the property, he or she must follow the standards for eviction procedures and those are well-defined by law.

The process takes time but eventually, the landlord can favourably evict the tenant. At least the tenant has the chance to find a new rental property during this period.

The landlord has several methods to end a fixed-term tenancy:

  1. Give a Section 8 notice in case the tenant has violated the tenancy agreement.
  2. Give a Section 21 notice with a period of at least 2 months between the day the notice is served and the day it becomes active.
  3. Legally regain a possession in the court which will be enforced upon the tenant by the county bailiffs.
  4. Take advantage of a “break clause” in the rental contract (if specified) which lets him terminate the agreement earlier.
  5. The tenant voluntarily agrees to move out of the property.

In such occasions, the tenant could bargain for the cost of end of tenancy cleaning, fees on packing belongings prior to the move, even expense on man and van services and full house removals.

Usually, the tenancy transforms from “fixed” to “periodic” when the term of the agreement ends. Periodic tenancies last from one month to the other and provide both parties with more flexible rights. If you are living in a rental property under a periodic tenancy, then the landlord has to follow the same procedures to evict you.

In conclusion,

You can’t get evicted solely based on the property sale. This reason is not enough for legal actions to be taken. If the landlord undertakes an eviction process, it will be considered an illegal act and he will be sued in court.

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