Question: I’m renting and my landlord just informed me he is going to sell. Am I going to have to move? How do I get my deposit back? What should I be concerned about?
The Rental Girl: First of all, you don’t have to be too concerned unless you live in a non-rent controlled unit and your lease is up. Let’s break it down by different scenarios:
YOUR RENTAL IS FOR SALE AND YOU:
- Live in a single family home and your lease term has NOT expired: Most buyers do NOT want to purchase a home with a tenant in possession. The seller, your landlord, will probably not get as high of an offer with you in there. Your landlord must be pretty desperate to sell if he is selling at this point. You have a legal right of possession to that property and your lease transfers to the new owner. The new owner must honor your lease term. However, at the end of the lease term, the new owner can give you notice to vacate.
- Live in a single family home or condo and your lease term is month-to-month: You need to worry. You live in a single family home and most likely the person who buys the house will be an owner-occupier. They will want to live there, too. All they have to do is serve you a 30-day notice to vacate.
- Live in non-rent controlled multi-unit building and your lease term is month-to-month: It depends. Is your unit the “owners” unit or the nicest unit? You probably have a 50/50 chance. An investor may purchase the property. Or, a owner-user may purchase it. If an owner-user purchases the property, they may want to live in your unit if it’s the largest or nicest unit, or if it just appeals to them. They only need to give you a 30 day notice to vacate if your lease term is expired and you are not in a rent controlled unit.
- Live in a rent controlled multi-unit building and your lease term is month-to-month: Don’t worry too much. You’ve got rent control on your side and LAHD makes it very difficult for an owner to relocate you. It is not uncommon for buyers to offer tenants a big chunk of money to move out, but you can always decline. Or, you can negotiate. The new owner can request a no-fault eviction for owner occupancy (there are many restrictions on this), but even if they qualify to do so, they would have to pay you relocation assistance and give you adequate notice. The unit would still be rent-controlled, so when the owner moves out they would have to re-rent the unit at the same rent you were paying (plus rent increases). Because of this, many opt to bypass the no-fault eviction procedure and negotiate directly with the tenant. The ball is in your court.
Regarding your security deposit, it will be transferred to the new owner. Whoever owns the property when you vacate will be responsible for returning your deposit. Even if your property is foreclosed on, becomes bank owned, or is re-sold to an individual buyer that new buyer then has to return your deposit. Whoever owns the property when you vacate will be responsible for returning your deposit.
What else do you need to be concerned about? How about: terms negotiated outside of the lease? What have you negotiated with your landlord outside of the lease? Did you email your landlord requesting to re-paint? Get a pet? Replace an appliance? Ideally you would have made all these negotiated items a part of the lease. But in reality, they happen via email or are verbal. When your property is in escrow, you’ll be asked to fill out an estoppel certificate. Make sure to note all these agreements on this certificate. Did the landlord verbally approve you to paint your unit? Did he approve you to get a new dog? Did he increase your security deposit because you got a new pet? Make sure all of this is notated on the estoppel certificate.
“Ask a Rental Agent” is a series of helpful Q&A’s brought to you by the lovely real estate agents at The Rental Girl . The Rental Girl is a leasing agency with branches throughout Los Angeles. Each branch is operated by a unique agent who specializes in her area. All agents at The Rental Girl are California licensed Real Estate agents who specialize in helping renters and home buyers with all their real estate needs. Do you have a question you would like answered by an agent? Fill out the form below to submit a question to The Rental Girl: