My Landlord Sold the Building, Now What?

in Legal Issues on by

Rumors are running wild around the pristine pool, between the treadmills, and down the well-manicured walkways of your apartment. Word is that your apartment’s owner is selling the place. Sally Sue down in apartment 17 claims everyone has to move out by the end of the month, or the new owner will come in and repossess all property left in your apartment. Is Sally Sue right? What can you do in this situation? Read on to find the answers to the multitude of questions likely to be racing through your mind at this moment.

Can I be evicted?

In most cases, no. The sale of a property is not cause for eviction unless there’s a clause in your lease permitting the landlord to terminate your lease upon selling the property. Your lease agreement doesn’t just require you to pay rent for the lease period. It also requires your landlord to rent the apartment to you for the lease period, and neither party can break this agreement without consent or a clause written into the lease.

Laws may vary by state, however. California’s Ellis Act can allow new owners to evict current residents with 120 days’ notice in some circumstances, but it also requires new owners to pay relocation expenses for those in need and also allows for former tenants to sue if the new owner opens up any apartments for rent within the next two years. Basically, this act is designed to allow the purchaser to convert the property from apartments to another use, not to allow new owners to evict and replace tenants at will.

How much time do I have to move out?

As stated, you should not be evicted by a new landlord except under certain provisions. The length of your former lease agreement remains valid unless you sign a new contract with the new landlord. You should be given ample notice if required to move out of your existing apartment.

Is the new owner my new landlord?

Unless a clause is written into your lease agreement that addresses the sale of the building, you are entitled to live in your apartment for the term of the lease. The buyer of the apartment complex should understand that purchasing a property brings with it the responsibility of upholding all existing lease agreements as a landlord. Even if the old landlord doesn’t specifically describe these agreements, the law holds that anyone purchasing a unit already occupied by tenants is assumed to have “constructive notice” of the associated lease agreements. If a tenant is living in an apartment at the time of the sale of the property, the buyer is presumed to have known about the lease arrangement and cannot evade upholding this agreement as the new owner. Basically, it’s the fault of the buyer if he or she failed to investigate the situation and learn about the existing tenants, and you are still entitled to live out your lease.

Do I have to sign a new lease agreement? What if the new landlord raises my rent?

You never have to sign a new lease agreement with a new landlord unless there was a clause in your existing agreement requiring you to do so. A new landlord will very likely try to convince you to sign a new agreement, probably for a higher rent. Don’t do this unless you see an incentive in it for you. The new owner must honor existing lease agreements for their full term and at the specified rental rate. If you sign a new lease agreement, however, it replaces your former contract and you’re now bound to pay the rent specified in the new lease.

Will I get my security deposit back?

Your security deposit must either be returned to you or transferred to the apartment’s new owner/landlord by your former landlord. The latter option is obviously only relevant if you continue residing in the same apartment. As with any security deposit situation, your landlord is required to provide an itemized list of deductions if the deposit is not returned in full. Along with this information, the old landlord should provide you with the exact name and contact information of the new landlord, as well as the amount of money transferred to the new landlord. If your old landlord does not transfer the deposit to your new landlord but does not inform you of the situation, the new landlord is still responsible for returning your deposit at the end of your lease.

What if I want to move out?

Just as your new landlord is expected to uphold your existing lease agreement by providing you with a place to stay, you’re expected to uphold the lease by continuing to pay rent. Getting out of the lease with a new landlord will probably require a similar process as getting out of any lease. However, it might be slightly easier, as the new landlord may be eager to move in some new tenants and raise the rent from whatever price you were paying.

In sum, the sale of the property where you live does not affect your current lease, you will not be evicted, and you do not have to sign a new lease agreement if you don’t want to. If your new landlord tries to pressure you into moving out or changing your lease agreement, consult with your lawyer or local tenants’ rights group. You may want to involve your fellow tenants in your mission, especially if the landlord is pressuring everyone to move out and/or pay more. By buying the property where you live, the landlord takes over your lease, so make sure he or she honors it.

26 Responses to “My Landlord Sold the Building, Now What?”

  1. June 18, 2006 at 7:40 am, Guest said:

    my apartment lease changed hands 3 times in the 3 years I was there. My new “landlord” who owned the last 3 months of my lease didn’t know I had a security deposit, even though it was on the first page of my lease. I never signed anything with this person. He called me a lier that I had a deposit, so I deducted it from my last rent payment….big mistake now I had to pay him 1700, he got the fair markete value of my lease for a year. he also has 750.00 of my deposit money he is not returning and is now sueing me to replace the carpet in this apartment. he has not done anything to this apartment since I have moved out two months ago and has a new tenant. tenants have no rights in this condo conversion, this guy has ruined my life. and I never made a late rent payment in 3 years, and was a perfect tenant. my advice get out before your unit sells……..I tried to but coudn’t.l

    Reply

  2. December 12, 2006 at 4:35 pm, Guest said:

    what is the proper action to take when taking over a rental property with existing tenants regarding aggreements and such.

    Reply

  3. March 14, 2007 at 7:57 pm, Guest said:

    The house I am renting was sold, do I have to uphold the terms of my previous lease or can I give a 30 notice and move out?

    Reply

  4. March 21, 2007 at 5:53 am, Guest said:

    my landlord sold his property without me knowing and i also payed up 5,000 rent in front and i claimed housing benefit ti be able to pay my mate back the money i get from housing benefit now my new landlord is asking me for rent from jan this year and says i owe 13,00 in rent arrears,ive payed up so what am i suppose to do as he is trying to get me evivted even thou myrent has been payed to old landlord and my tenancy runs out on the 3rd august can the courts allow him to kick me out

    Reply

  5. May 20, 2007 at 1:13 am, Guest said:

    I have been living in my apt for 15yrs now, and the owner is currently selling the house. Now ive heard that if the owner wants me out he has to pay me a certain amount for each year ive lived there, is that true?

    Reply

  6. May 22, 2007 at 4:07 pm, Guest said:

    my house was sold in april after we paid pur rent. our lease is going to be up on may 30th so we thought we were going to be closing on a house by thenso we put in a 30 day notice, we explained to the new owner what was going on and he agreed to accept the deposit for the month of May. Well, everything did not go as planned, and we need to stay at the house longer so we talked to the new onwer and now he wants the rent for May or he wants us to move out. I, explained to him that I could give him the rent for may on the 31st and we could make the payments for june. According to him he wants the rent for may today and we could break up the rent in June into 3 different payments. If I don’t have the money for may right now what should I do?

    Reply

  7. July 27, 2007 at 5:06 pm, Guest said:

    My Apartment building was sold a month ago. When we transferred from a one bedroom to a two bedroom the old management cut us a little break on rent. Now the new management wants us to pay them the discount back. Can they do that? HELP!!!

    Reply

  8. August 10, 2007 at 10:57 am, Guest said:

    I have lived in my aprtment in Colorado for over 10 years. At the time I moved in I paid a 200.00 pet deposit. The property sold in 2003 and all deposits were transpered over but the pet deposit became a pet fee. The property has now been sold again and the new owners want to charge a new pet fee saying that the old fee was not transfered over but kept by the old management company. Can the old management company actually do this? Can the new management company charge us again?

    Reply

  9. November 05, 2007 at 2:19 am, Anonymous said:

    My apartment complex in Colorado was sold a few months before I moved out on terms of old lease. My roommate worked for the company and they told her they were going to renovate all the apartments when the tenants moved out (this is a mostly college student complex). When we moved out, we were in a very big hurry and didn’t have time to clean the carpets. I now have a bill for $4,000 for replacement of carpet and linoleum. The carpet was new when we moved in and only needed to be cleaned, and they were going to replace the carpet anyway when we moved out. The linoleum is over 5 years old and was in great condition. The only problem area was in one of the bathrooms were it was not sealed to the tub, thus it started to peel away,(we had many verbal and written work orders for this to be fixed and it never was). I was wondering if it is right for them to charge us $2,000 for the carpet and $1,000 for linoleum, when the carpet was being replaced anyway and the linoleum was wear and tear from over 5 years? Please help, this is my first problem. I had no problems with the former complex owners; in fact we had three different apartments with them and no problems.

    Reply

  10. November 20, 2007 at 12:51 am, Anonymous said:

    Yes. The most important two words relating to your situation are “deposit” and “fee.” During the transition between new management companies and your subsequent new lease renewals it is possible that what was once considered a refundable security deposit to become a non-refundable lease fee. The lease fee would have been paid in conjunction with policies in place by the management company and/or owner at the time of lease inception.

    Your new management company can require a new pet fee to be paid if their policy differs from previous rules.

    On a side note – unless there is a waiting list for apartments in your community, I can’t justify any reason for the current management company to require such strict enforcement. I would try to speak with the property manager and explain your case (if you haven’t already done so). Management changes are common practice in the industry and I imagine they should be able to relate to your situation.

    David Kotowski
    Handle It! Marketing
    handleit.info

    Reply

  11. November 20, 2007 at 12:55 am, Anonymous said:

    Are you attempting to move out of the two-bedroom unit that was negotiated at a more favorable rate? If so, then management can require you to repay the special that was given to you over the entire lease term. Most times discounted rates are given off the apartment’s established market rate. This discount is extended in good faith that you will meet all of your lease obligations. If you fail to do so, they most likely have the right to request for you to repay the special you received.

    David Kotowski
    Handle It! Marketing
    handleit.info

    Reply

  12. November 20, 2007 at 1:03 am, Anonymous said:

    This is an easy situation to fix! All you have to do is provide a copy of the move-out inspection that you completed with the landlord the day you turned your keys in to them.

    Easy huh?

    I have a feeling that you probably didn’t take the time to complete an inspection of the apartment with the landlord or property manager. In that case they are pretty justified with the charges that you have been assessed. Conversely, the property manager must have a copy of an inspection that was completed when you first moved into the unit. That inspection must be signed by all lease holders and an agent from the office. If they do not have an inspection on file from when you moved in, it is impossible for them to determine that you caused the damages in the unit.

    David Kotowski
    Handle It! Marketing
    handleit.info

    Reply

  13. February 07, 2008 at 4:25 am, Guest said:

    My parents have been renting in a duplex home for about 14 years. They have gone through 4 different landlords since the time of there residency there. They have recently moved out of that place. There is a lot of wear and tear in that home throughout the time of there stay. Most of the problems they had, they have mention to the previous manager and they have manage to do some of the fixes. This last manager has never done any work in the home since he took over the management. My parents even have problems with him when they’ve tried to inform him about problems in the home and not once have he tried to fix the problems. Not only that this landlord has taken over the lease agreement from the previous manager, therefor my parents have never sign a new lease agreement with him. On the lease agreement it states that the rent is $700 a month. This landlord has raised the rent to $800 that was not under the contract and my parents have been paying that amount since his time of management. Is he allowed to raised the rent when it is not under the lease agreement? Well, now he is trying to sue my parents for repairs in the home a month and half later and there are new tenants already residing in that home. He has never inspected the place since he started management and we are aware that the place is not in good condition but a lot of the fixes were from regular wear and tear that the landlord previously and this latest landlord has neglected to maintain. He states in letter of all the repairs and my parents owe him about $2000 and they have 15 days to make the payment or a claim will be filed against my parents and that they have to pay all the court and lawyer fees that goes along with it. Please help me with some or any advice you can give.

    Reply

  14. March 17, 2008 at 3:44 pm, Guest said:

    My landlord and I verbally agreed to a 1 year lease. My landlord is the owner of the home I rent and is now going to sell the property. I recently noticed on the written agreement, that the terms are month to month. Once the property is sold and I have a new landlord, is the new landlord bound to the verbal agreement?

    Reply

  15. April 03, 2008 at 4:20 am, Guest said:

    i live in michigan, in my rented duplex and have lived here for 3 years. about 7 months or more ago my landlord sold the property to his dad. our lease with our landlord had expired and our new landlord hasnt made a new lease or month to month contract or anything on paper at all stating how much rent is,late charges or anything. he hasnt even done a walk through of the house before he bought it. my family and i are planning on moving out in 3 months. i guess my question is on my worries on when we move out. there were damages to the duplex when we moved in and neither the landlord or i filled out anything saying what those damages were. since that i have had burn holes in the carpet that were here when we moved in start pulling up and over time it has caused small strips of missing carpet. do we have to pay for that? also the other damages that we cant prove didnt come from us will we have to pay for those? he is also telling us we owe $10. per day if we are late on rent. what are our rights since our lease with our old landlord had been expired for over a year when our new landlord bought this place? also we know nothing about whats going on with our $550. security deposit. what are we legally responsible for in our move?

    Reply

  16. August 07, 2008 at 2:11 pm, Guest said:

    With having a “fixed term lease” @ one (1) year.
    The owner/landlord has sold the apartment building
    to the city, and within (6) six months the selling of the property will be final.
    I paid a total of 3500.00 to move in (9) months ago 2250.00 being the deposit. it has been mentioned that
    the city wants everyone out upon taking over the property,Do I have to leave without my 2250.00 deposit? but it is also said that they will pay anyone still living in the units to relocate.
    Does this mean that I would only get what they want to give and not my deposit? and do I have to except there offer? my lease will be up in 3 months and I was going to go to month to month is this allowed? or do I have to move when offered?
    Please help with any advice you can offer.
    Thanks D.GRIFFIN

    Reply

  17. September 08, 2008 at 10:12 pm, Guest said:

    This is almost exactly what happened to me less than 3 months ago. My building was purchased by a college who wanted to turn it into a dormitory. However I was under a lease agreement. Many of the other tenants had lived there so long that they had gone on to month-to-month and had no lease. The school on the day of the closing hand delivered those tenants without a lease a letter stating they had 30 days to move, and offering them a deal to relocate sooner, that would include certain moving expenses. My situation however is like yours, I still had 5 months on my lease and a deposit to consider. They have to give you your deposit back, that simple, unless they have a valid reason (i.e. damage to the aptmt, etc) not to, and they have to give you that reason in WRITING. As far as relocating, that would be up to them and what they are willing to offer you. They should tell you if they are wanting to make a deal to pay you to end your lease sooner move out — which should include your deposit. You do not have to move when offered. Your lease protects you against it — unless your old landlord included a clause against new ownership (which is unlikely). Check your lease, it should say something about if the building is sold the lease will transition over with no change or need for anything in writing.

    Reply

  18. September 09, 2008 at 10:40 am, Guest said:

    my situation is i’ve been in my appartment for a year now..it went up for sale in june and sold august 10…the ‘old landlord’ sent me a letter stating the building was officially sold august 10th but i should continue to pay all of augusts rent and septembers rent to them they wanted septembers rent by september 3rd because of closing happening in the very begining of september…i didn’t think that was right…if you don’t officially own it anymore why should i pay the rent for those 2 months? in that same letter they said we would be hearing from the ‘new landlord’ sometime in spetember as to where to sent octobers rent…so i figured i’d save the money and pay it to the new landord when he sent me all the info….a month went by and on september 5th the ‘old landlord’sent me a letter stating that since i didn’t pay those 2 months rent to them i have 2 weeks to vacate the premises or they’ll start the eviction process….how can they evict me if they don’t own it? and also i heard from alot of people that if a building is for sale you don’t even owe rent because it being up for sale the new landlord can evict you anytime right after they purchace the building…someone help!!!

    sincerly, confused

    Reply

  19. October 28, 2008 at 3:50 pm, Guest said:

    My tenant gave me a 30 day written notice. We put the unit up for sale at that time and now have a buyer for the unit. Now the renters said the new place is not ready and refuses to move. I will lose this sale if they do not move. What rights do I have?

    Reply

  20. December 13, 2008 at 11:06 pm, Guest said:

    I signed a 10 year lease and was going to buy the house. Last week the landlord said she does’nt care about the lease and is going to sell the house so I’ve withheld the rent since she stated that the lease is meaningless and that she wont fix the hot water heater. Am I now breaking the lease or can I withhold the rent until she makes the repairs?

    Reply

  21. June 10, 2009 at 7:03 pm, mirna corena said:

    my landlord sold the building that i live in to the city and i have until agusts to move out and she still charging rent , i found out by my neighbor not by my landlord what do i do

    Reply

  22. November 28, 2010 at 2:55 am, Amanda said:

    Please help me! ok so i just rented my first house and it was a short term lease or 6 months well three months later my landlord sold the house and i moved out of the house and the new landlord said he was going to evict me even tho i already moved out the lease was up in aug and i moved out in april and now im getting a bill from a collection agency for almost 5000 for damages what can i do i never signed a lease with the new people i have never even met him i talked to him on the phone once and that is when he called to tell me the landlord sold the house i cant afford this and im in college and its going to ruin my credit i cant even afford a lawyer to help me with this

    Reply

  23. July 28, 2011 at 7:35 pm, Curious said:

    I was looking to buy an old house from a friend of the family. He has signed a 29 year lease with a family to live in a trailer on his property and the only form of payment would be to take care of the outdoor furnace….. I know crazy right lol. I like this family too and it’s not like I’d want to kick them out but if I would like to know my rights as the new homeowner. They pay nothing in rent and the current property may go into forclosure if he can’t sell it before that happens. What would the bank do if they take over the place, I’m sure they would’n’t want people living on their land for free. If anyone has any answers please help

    Reply

  24. March 11, 2012 at 11:56 pm, Screwed & Scared said:

    On February 15, 2011, I signed a one-year lease. I agreed to and paid one months’ security deposit at that time. In June 2011, I was laid off and informed my landlord of the situation. I struggled to make ends meet, but I did not violate my lease and only once (November 2011) did I make a barely late payment. In December 2011, the landlord informed me that the property would be sold and asked me to move into a different unit that she owns. When she showed me the apartment, she asked me to move on February 1, 2012, and stated that my security deposit would be carried over if there were no damages, and I would just be responsible for paying the slightly higher rent. Because of my financial situation, I knew it would be the most affordable option and made preparations to move. The landlord then sent me a letter saying I would be responsible for a new two months security deposit due on February 1, 2012. At that point, I had no other viable choice, and agreed to the terms. The landlord thanked me for the excellent condition in which I left her property, and told me that my original security deposit would be credited to my account within 30 days, the amount covering all but $20 of one month’s rent. Unfortunately, due to my financial situation, I could not cover the two months’ security plus first month’s rent on February 1st. She agreed to a payment arrangement of 6 equal payments (in addition to monthly rent) and has issued a notice to vacate upon any missed payment. I have made the first 3 payments as well as a separate payment to cover March’s rent. At this point, she has received more than the equivalent of one month’s rent in addition to all due rent for February and March.
    We renewed the lease – literally hand writing the new address, effective dates and dollar amounts on the old lease – which made sense to me since I am not a new tenant and have been in good standing with the landlord.
    I have recently found that Pennsylvania law allows a landlord to hold only one month security deposit for the 2nd year of a lease, and would like to request that the payment agreement and notice to vacate be destroyed as they were not lawful – requiring 2 months security in the 2nd year of a lease – and have caused undue hardship. I can’t sleep, my relationship is suffering because I am so miserable, and I am going out of my mind trying to find *legal* ways to come up with payments that total nearly double my monthly income.
    How do I ask her to do this?

    Reply

  25. March 22, 2013 at 11:50 am, Anonymous said:

    How do i get out of my lease with my new owner!

    Reply

  26. April 11, 2013 at 1:19 am, Not Getting Answers from this site said:

    Why is it that this site does not answer questions? people are desperate and need help NOW, not next month or so. If I submit a question, by seeing all the non or late responses here, I know I won’t get an answer anytime soon. Why bother?

    Reply

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