Tenant rights when a house is being sold

Written by edriaan koening
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Tenant rights when a house is being sold
The landlord has to respect the tenant's rights when selling a property. (Sold Home For Sale Sign & New House image by Andy Dean from Fotolia.com)

Although a tenant is paying rent and living in a house, the landlord still owns the property and has the right to sell it. The tenant may have to go through some inconvenience when the landlord wants to show the house and may have to move if the new owner does not want to continue to rent out the house. However, the tenant still has some legal rights.

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Showing Schedule

Before prospective buyers purchase the house, they usually want to see it. They enter the house and become an inconvenience to the tenant. When the tenant pays rent, he gets the right for quiet enjoyment of the house and can stop the landlord, realtors and prospective buyers from entering the property. The landlord or his agent needs to give the tenant 24 hours' notice and get his consent before showing the property.

Showing Accommodation

Even when the landlord or his agent gets the tenant's consent to show the property, the tenant does not have to do anything to help with the showing. The landlord can't make the tenant leave the house or even the room during a showing, because the tenant has the right to stay and go about his business. If the landlord insists on your cooperation, you may be able to negotiate a reduction in rent in exchange for showing privileges. After all, you are giving up some of your right to quiet enjoyment of the house.

Eviction Notice

If the new owner wants to live in the house, he has the right to evict the tenant. However, the tenant also has the right to stay at least until the lease expires and the landlord needs to provide a notice to vacate. The period of time the tenant has before having to vacate the property depends on the laws of the particular state. In most states, landlords only have to give 30 days' notice for tenants with month-to-month leases.

Level of Service

Landlords who want the tenant to move as soon as possible may try to withhold services to drive the tenant out. For example, the landlord may shut off water and electricity, remove security lighting or remove doors in the building. In such a case, the tenant can assert his right to a basic level of service. Half of the states in the U.S. allow tenants to withhold rent if they don't get a basic amenities. In other states, the tenants can take the landlords to the small claims court to get a rent refund.

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