Uh-oh. Your landlord wants to sell the property and they just mentioned it to you – or worse, you just came home to a “For Sale” sign on the front lawn. It’s a seller’s market and rental is a hot commodity, you can’t blame them if they’ve decided to cash in. But how will this affect you?
It’s not so much a concern in a large apartment building complex, as most highrises are handled by professional management companies and when they are bought and sold it really has little effect, if anything it’s a good thing. Usually the new company will do an audit to see what needs to be invested into the building and improvements may even take place. But when you’re renting a house – or a unit within a house, duplex or triplex and the owner wants to sell, it’s important to keep communications open for a smooth process.
Tensions can mount quickly, especially if you want to stay. You may voice your hopes of remaining, but unless you have a lease, you may need to move unexpectedly. And even if you have a lease, that only guarantees your stay temporarily. Living with uncertainty is challenging, however, staying positive and respectful will help keep the situation manageable. And it reflects well on you when potential new owners ask your landlord about you.
It’s unsettling to be at the mercy of someone else’s decisions. Take time to digest the fact that you may need to move against your wishes before reacting. Find out how much notice and/or compensation is legally due to you in this situation. In Ontario, if you are in a lease, you cannot be evicted before the end of the term. You can be given 60 days’ notice to leave, at the end of the lease, whereas in a month-to-month situation you may only have 60 days.
Be clear on the laws and boundaries around showing the unit. Ontario and BC require 24 hours’ written notice be provided to the tenant. If you have children or pets, discuss their needs around showings with the landlord. If you work from home, that is another consideration you may want to bring up. Having agreements with your landlord on preferred showing times is helpful. Put it in writing and agree together to be flexible. For example, if you are planning a dinner party which happens to fall within your agreed standard showing times, give your landlord plenty of notice and ask them to avoid scheduling showings on that day – or at least that time. Name other times that will work. Be willing to cooperate. But be clear, the landlord has the right to enter with 24 hours written notice provided to you.
You will likely have to deal with Realtors. If a Realtor asks to show your place with less than 24 hours’ notice you are within your rights to refuse. In this situation it is helpful to suggest other suitable days and times. Landlords understand this is a stressful situation and should back up your rights here, especially if you are respecting and backing up theirs. But again, keep in mind that you won’t stop the property from being sold by not being helpful, but by making it difficult for prospective purchasers to enter you may find that you prolong the process and cause yourself additional stress with more showings and a less understanding landlord. And if you don’t accommodate the person who may end up being your new landlord, you may find that your new landlord isn’t terribly flexible or understanding of your needs and requests.
Working together as a team will reap the best outcome. Whether or not you have to move may be out of your control, however, being reasonable when the landlord wants to sell is the best practice and may ingratiate you to your new landlord. If it doesn’t sell, you may wind up with a better relationship with your landlord and your chosen place to live. If it does sell, you may get to stay and start off in the good graces of the new owners.