What to do if your landlord is selling the house.

You’ve just found out your landlord is selling the house you are renting.

First things first – don’t start packing just yet.

As the property owner, the landlord has the right to sell his property whenever he so chooses – but he must still abide by the lease he signed with you. What this means is even if someone purchases the house tomorrow, you still have the right to live there until your lease is up… unless your lease says otherwise.

To break it down:

Leases are contracts. The purpose of a contract is to plan ahead 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.

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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 the lease.

What happens if it goes ahead?

It can be tricky for a landlord to show off their property while you’re living in it – just as it can be a disruption to you if you have potential buyers coming in and out of the house each week. So what are the basic rules here?

1. During the selling process, you are obliged to keep the property in a reasonable condition, but you don’t need to go to any special effort to make the house sale-able.

2. While your landlord is permitted to show the property (with ample notice to you,) they have to keep weekly showings to a reasonable amount. What this means is that they cannot arrange showings every single day of the week unless you consent to it.

3. Once the property has sold, the new owner has purchased with knowledge of your tenancy and your original lease agreement still stands. Now, keep in mind that you won’t be forced out of your house just because the property has a new owner. However…

4. If the new owner does want to end the lease, they must abide by the existing terms and conditions of your contract – this means giving you 30 or 60 days notice to vacate.

Where to from here?

Once you’ve been notified that the property will go up for sale, your best bet is to sit down with the landlord (or your agent) and discuss the situation.

Bear in mind that every Australian state has slightly different laws. So make sure you familiarise yourself with your state’s tenancy laws so you know how much written notice you need to be given before, during, and after the sale.

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