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Tenant's rights in a home sale

May 24, 2009|Martin Eichner

Question: I am starting to look for a new rental house for myself. I am worried about moving into a rental that is later sold to a new owner during my lease term. This happened to me once before. What are my rights as a tenant if the house is sold?

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Answer: Your rights in the case of a regular sale of the property depend on the type of rental agreement you have.

If you have a month-to-month rental agreement, the new owner, just like the previous owner, can give you a 30-day notice of termination if you have been a tenant for less than a year and a 60-day notice if you have been a tenant for more than a year.

On the other hand, if you have a lease, the sale of the property does not terminate your lease. The new owner must honor the remaining term of the lease period. If you are worried about a possible sale, a lease is a better option for you.

There is one exception. A lease can contain a specific "escape clause" that explicitly terminates the lease upon sale of the property. If there is such a clause in your lease, you will have no right to stay after the sale is completed.

You should read any lease offered to you carefully, to make sure there isn't such a clause.

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Martin Eichner, Project Sentinel -- www.housing.org Eichner is director of Housing Counseling Programs for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based mediation service.

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