If the owner wants to put your rental property on the market for sale, don’t panic. It’s important to understand your rights as a tenant and then plan accordingly.

First things first: This doesn’t mean you’ll be forced to find a new place to live. In fact, many owners purchase properties as an investment. Like most investors, if there’s an opportunity to sell, they’ll want to take it.

Many landlords prefer to keep their tenants in place and paying rent as long as possible, while others prefer to sell an empty property. The important thing to remember is that your rights vary by state/territory. If in doubt, get advice from an agent or tenancy body.

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What are my rights as a tenant?

It’s relatively common for an owner to sell a property in the middle of your fixed-term agreement. In Australia, there are laws in place to protect tenants from any potential pitfalls. Here are a few things to remember:

Your landlord is allowed to sell at any time: In all states and territories across Australia, a property owner is permitted to sell their rental property whenever they like.

Your lease is still valid when the property goes on the market: Your current lease (or tenancy agreement) remains valid when your rental hits the market. It also remains valid after the sale, so you don’t have to move out of your place if it changes owners. Landlords cannot terminate fixed-term agreements for the sale of a property. This means that if the rental property is sold to an investor who wants a tenanted property, you won’t experience many changes.

However, this can also lead to your lease being terminated if you mutually consent. For example, if you’re on a fixed-term agreement but want to move out because your property is being sold, you can end your tenancy agreement early by reaching mutual consent with your landlord.

By the same token, if the new owner wants you to move out, they have to abide by the terms of your existing lease.

Your landlord must notify you before they inspect: You should be given 14 days’ notice before your first viewing. As a tenant, you’re obliged to make all reasonable efforts to agree on a suitable time and day for that showing, and you must also keep your rental in a reasonable state of cleanliness. You also have the right to be there when your property is opened for inspection.

State/TerritoryLaw breakdownHow it works
NEW SOUTH WALESInspection noticeTwo weeks' written notice before the first inspection. A minimum of 48 hours' notice for subsequent inspections. These cannot amount to more than 2x week.
Termination noticeYou can't be evicted by your new (or old) landlord if a fixed agreement is in place unless you violate your lease terms or reach agreement by mutual consent.
Periodic agreementsYour landlord can evict you providing they give you 90 days' notice, or 14 days' notice if you breach your agreement.
OtherYour landlord must give you 30 days' notice if they wish to terminate your lease at the end of your tenancy agreement.
VICTORIAInspection noticeYou must be given 24 hours' notice before a landlord shows around a prospective buyer.
Termination noticeYou can't be evicted by your new (or old) landlord if a fixed agreement is in place unless you violate your lease terms or reach agreement by mutual consent.
Periodic agreementsYou can be evicted on 60 days' written notice.
QUEENSLANDInspection noticeYou must be given written notice of your landlord's intention to sell the property, as well as 24 hours' notice before the first inspection. The landlord must also provide 24 hours' notice before any subsequent inspections.
Termination noticeYou can't be evicted by your new (or old) landlord if a fixed agreement is in place unless you violate your lease terms or reach agreement by mutual consent.
Periodic agreementsYour landlord can evict you on four weeks' notice once a contract of sale has been signed.
WESTERN AUSTRALIAInspection noticeYour landlord can only conduct inspections between 8:00AM and 6:00PM on weekdays, or between 9:00AM and 5:00 PM on a Saturday, unless you give them permission to conduct one outside of these hours. Ahead of each inspection, your landlord must provide "reasonable written notice," according to the RTA.
Termination noticeYou can't be evicted by your new (or old) landlord if a fixed agreement is in place unless you violate your lease terms or reach agreement by mutual consent.
Periodic agreementsIf the contract specifically mentions handing over vacant premises, your selling landlord can evict you on 30 days' written notice.
SOUTH AUSTRALIAInspection notice14 days' notice before the property is advertised for sale, and "reasonable notice" before each inspection. The landlord must also specify a time between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM on any day other than a Sunday or public holiday, and cannot conduct more than two viewings every seven days, unless you give them permission to do so.
Termination noticeYou can't be evicted by your new (or old) landlord if a fixed agreement is in place unless you violate your lease terms or reach agreement by mutual consent.
Periodic agreementsYour landlord can evict you on 60 days' written notice if a contract of sale has been signed; on 90 days' notice if a contract hasn't been signed.
TASMANIAInspection noticeIf you give them written permission, your landlord can show prospective buyers through your rental at any time. If not, they can only conduct inspections between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM, no more than once a day, and no more than five times a week. They must also provide 48 hours' written notice ahead of each inspection.
Termination noticeYou can't be evicted by your new (or old) landlord if a fixed agreement is in place unless you violate your lease terms or reach agreement by mutual consent.
Periodic agreementsYou can be evicted on 42 days' written notice.
NORTHERN TERRITORYInspection notice24 hours' notice before an inspection. According to the RTA, your landlord is only allowed to enter your property between 7:00 AM and 9:00 AM, and they must be reasonable about "the number of showings sought."
Termination noticeYou can't be evicted by your new (or old) landlord if a fixed agreement is in place unless you violate your lease terms or reach agreement by mutual consent.
Periodic agreementsYour landlord can evict you on 42 days' notice.
OtherYour landlord must give you 14 days' notice if they wish to terminate your lease on the end date noted in your tenancy agreement.
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORYInspection noticeMinimum 24 hours' notice before a prospective buyer can be shown around. You must grant reasonable access to the premise, but can refuse if you weren't informed of the landlord's intention to sell.
Termination noticeYou can't be evicted by your new (or old) landlord if a fixed agreement is in place unless you violate your lease terms or reach agreement by mutual consent.
Periodic agreementsThe RTA states that a landlord can evict you on eight weeks' notice if they "genuinely intend to sell the premises."

Check your lease agreement for relevant information

Leases are contracts. The purpose of a contract is to plan for anything that might happen in the future. It’s why your lease might even have a clause detailing what will happen in the event of a zombie apocalypse (usually referred to as an ‘Act of God’).

So drag out your lease and have a look for anything that talks about what happens if your landlord decides to sell up. Your lease may say something which allows the landlord to break the lease and make you move out if he decides he’s going to sell, but most states require him to give you at least 30 days’ notice first.

So after you’ve gone through that lease, maybe give your landlord a call. Finding out the house is for sale by spotting it online is a little like finding out your boyfriend broke up with you because he updated his Facebook relationship status to ‘single’. Yep, awkward.

The only way to find out what’s going through your landlord’s head is to talk to him (or her). As long as you live there, remember you have rights under your lease.

What happens if the sale goes ahead?

If your landlord/agent informs you that the property is going up for sale, the best thing to do is find a time to sit down, chat about the situation and try to come to a mutual agreement.

Remember that every state and territory has different tenancy laws and expectations around notice periods. Make a point of familiarising yourself with your state’s specific tenancy laws so you know exactly how much written notice you should be given at all stages of the process.

For a list of rental resources and tenancy support groups in each state, click here to read our helpful blog post.

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