One of the worst fears tenants have is the day when they find out that their building has been sold. In the case of single-family residences, a new owner usually means that the tenant has to find a new place to live. For apartment renters, a new owner could mean just about anything from higher rent to moving out. But renters have rights, and those rights also apply when the building they live in has been sold.
What Could Happen?
The ideal situation for any tenant is that a new owner simply wants to generate revenue with their property and nothing changes for the tenants. Of course, the worst case scenario is that the new owner wants to make changes that involve giving every tenant 30 days to vacate the premise. The other option is that the new owner could raise rents to the point where some tenants can no longer afford to stay.
You can speculate all you want on what a new building owner will bring, but there are laws and rules that have to be followed. It is in a tenant’s best interests to know what their rights are and be prepared to fight for those rights if necessary.
Check Your Lease
The wording in your lease can sometimes help to protect you when your building is sold, even if you are renting a single-family property. If your lease has a specific process that is used when a new owner steps in, then you can expect the new owner to follow that process. It is a good idea to take out the lease and get familiar with it when you find out new owners are coming in.
If you are on a month-to-month situation with your lease, then that is not going to offer you a whole lot of protection. There might still be provisions in the lease that explain what could happen if the property is sold, but a month-to-month lease gives the new owner almost all of the leverage when it comes to whether you stay or go.
Before you sign a lease, you should read it completely. Some people glance over parts of a lease and then regret it when those parts become relevant. You should read and understand every part of a lease, including the provisions regarding changes of ownership, before you agree to live somewhere.
Government Subsidized Housing
If your building is government subsidized housing, then a new owner cannot immediately evict tenants or raise rent. In most cases, people buy government subsidized housing for its reliable stream of income, which is good news for the tenants who have come to call the building home.
When a tenant finds out that their rented home has been sold, there can be plenty of apprehension and anxiety to go along with pending changes. But tenants have to realize that they have rights, especially when there is a signed lease in place. Even if the lease does not cover the situation, there are federal and state housing laws that can protect tenants as well.
If your building gets sold, the last thing you should do is panic. Read your lease to find out what it says and contact an attorney to answer your questions.