What a landlord must do if they want to sell their property

Published: 31/07/2013

As the property market picks up, many accidental landlords may consider putting their property back on the market. However if your rental property has tenants in, there are certain laws you must follow before you can sell the property as Rob Denman, Solicitor and Head of GW LET, explains:

“Choosing to sell your property does not give you the right to evict your tenant. As with any eviction or termination of tenancy landlords, by law, must serve either a Section 21 Notice or a Section 8 Notice (if they have sufficient grounds to evict a tenant before the end of their tenancy).

“Unfortunately this is not a quick process and can take several months particularly if the tenant becomes difficult and does not vacate the property as per the date specified in the Notice so you need to bear this in mind when considering timeframes.

“This doesn’t stop you putting the property up for sale per se. However there are restrictions surrounding your right to show round prospective buyers. In fact you can only show round buyers if such a clause was included in the original tenancy agreement.

“If you have allowed for this then you must give tenants adequate notice (at least 24 hours) which they have the right to decline if it is an inconvenient time for them. The tenant, of course, is also under no obligation to ‘tidy up’ for you. Ignoring this could actually be judged as harassment. And you can certainly not just let yourself in.

“If you agree a sale for the property before the end of the existing tenancy you have a couple of options – the buyer can step into your shoes and inherit the tenants along with the purchase of the property or you can delay completion until the tenant has vacated.

“While it is understandable for a landlord to try and minimise the financial deficit an empty property can have, selling an occupied one can be somewhat tricky.

“Your best option to be open and honest with your tenants, explain the situation and reassure them that their tenancy will not be affected. That way they are much more likely to be willing to cooperate. You could even offer them first refusal!”

Content correct at time of publication

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