Selling a tenant-occupied property

02 Nov 2018, Market, by broosco team

There are many reasons you might decide to sell your property but what should you do in case there is a tenant living in your property? Bear in mind that although you are free to decide to sell it at any time, if it is tenant-occupied you need to understand that your tenant has rights to your property too. The following tips are important to consider before you attempt to sell a tenant-occupied property.

 

Tenant Cooperation is the Key

Some tenants are superb. They keep the home tidy and clean and allow you or your real estate agent showing the house to sellers whenever you plan. Others can be less cooperative and since they don’t benefit from the selling, it can be difficult to get their cooperation. Nothing could be worse than trying to show off a home with hostile tenants. You want prospective buyers to imagine themselves living in the space and enjoying it. If there are dirty dishes, clothes and messes everywhere, your chances of successfully selling go way down. So, no matter what type of tenant you have, it’s important to know where your rights begin and your tenants’ rights end.

 

What are your options?

As a landlord, there are two main courses of action you can take:
- wait for the lease to expire before selling or
- list your property for sale while your tenants are still living in the house.
Both options have advantages and disadvantages as well, but we will deal with them in a future article. If you chose to wait for the lease to expire things are simple. If you chose the second option, you need to have a plan in order to avoid unpleasant surprises. Remember, a cooperative tenant can make a sale while a hostile one can break it. Here are some tips that will help you set up your plan.

 

Consult your attorney and review the lease agreement

Whichever option you choose, the first step you should always take is reviewing the lease agreement. The actions you can take and when, mostly depend on the type of lease agreement you have with your tenants. Consult your attorney regarding legal requirements and especially how much notice to vacate you are required to give. An experienced real estate attorney will guide you on how to handle things legally and smoothly. Moreover, your real estate agent could possibly offer tips for a successful sale with tenants in the home.

 

Turn your renters into buyers

Don’t forget to ask your tenant if they are interested in buying your property. It’s fine to approach your tenant and discuss about this option directly. If they really like where they live, they might be interested in buying the home, which is a win win situation and makes everyone happy!

 

Motivate your tenant and gain his cooperation

Give your tenant an incentive to cooperate with showings. In order to persuade them to cooperate with your listing plans, consider offering them lower rent for a few months in exchange for an agreement to show a clean and well-kept home. Other incentives could possibly include offering a flexible move-out date or reimbursing moving costs.

 

Why your tenant resists in showings?

Talk to your tenant about why they do not want you to show the property. It might be as simple as they do not wish strangers to visit their bedrooms, maybe walk in the baby’s room, open their closets etc. It’s not unreasonable if they feel like an invasion of their privacy. Once you know why your tenant is resistant to showings you most likely will be able to ease some of their concerns and come up with a workable solution. Treat them with respect and let them know that you will be cooperative. If this doesn’t work you need to consult your attorney. We strongly recommend that you should take no actions and follow your attorney’s instructions.

 

Well documented agreement

It’s crucial to come to agreement with the tenant and write down the terms of this agreement or even better include them in the existing lease agreement. Pay attention to terms like how much notice you’ll give before showings (48 hours is usually accepted), which days of the week or what time of day the showings will take place, the minimum duration of each showing, what condition the home should be in etc. Be smart and keep the agreement official, no matter what you and your renters agree upon.

 

Conclusion

You have a right to sell your property whenever you wish. BUT if it is tenant-occupied you should know both yours and your tenant’s rights to the property before listing it for sale. It may be a house for you but for your tenant is his “home”. Communicate openly with your tenant, and make some compromises in order to have a smooth and successful sale.

Good Luck!

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