A property owned by a landlord is an investment, and sometimes landlords want to realise their investments.
If you are a tenant, what is your position? After all, to you its not an investment, its your home.
Tenants rights are generally stronger than many landlords think. Here are the four most important ones:
1. Your right to stay in the property is unaffected by your landlords need to sell
Or in other words the fact that the landlord wants to sell, does not give him any extra right to evict you.
So if your landlord writes to you saying something along the lines of “I am selling the property so I will have to ask you to leave within 28 days” you can ignore it. Or tell him you are not moving out.
Indeed, the landlord’s request could be considered harassment, which is a criminal offence.
Assuming you have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) all the landlord can do is serve a section 21 notice or (if he has grounds) a section 8 notice, and then bring proceedings for possession through the courts in the normal way.
Which will take several months.
2. Your landlord does not have the right to show round prospective purchasers unless your tenancy agreement provides for this
Even if the tenancy agreement does allow for this, the landlord must give proper notice (normally this will be at least 24 hours) and you can refuse to allow the appointment if it is inconvenient for you.
If your landlord goes in even if you have said ‘no’ this will be a breach of the ‘covenant of quiet enjoyment’ and be classed as harassment.
I think it could also be harassment if the landlord wants to come round too often – after all this is your home and you won’t want hordes of strangers coming round every day.
3. The terms of your tenancy will not change if the property is sold
Other than by the fact that the identity of your landlord has changed.
When someone buys a property which is tenanted, the new owner will ‘step into the shoes’ of the previous owner / landlord.
He will not get any extra rights. Indeed his rights will often be less than the original landlord, as some grounds for possession (for example the mandatory ground 6 regarding rebuilding the property) are not available to a landlord by purchase.
He will also not be entitled to increase the rent unless he follows the proper procedures.
4. You cannot be forced to sign a new tenancy agreement if you do not want to
In many cases it will be a good idea to have a new tenancy agreement which shows the name of your new landlord – but not always. For example the new tenancy agreement may try to take away some rights you had previously.
If your tenancy is an assured shorthold one, you may not have much option other than to sign, as if you do not the landlord has the right to serve a section 21 notice, and ultimately evict you through the courts.
However if you have an assured or a protected tenancy this will not be the case. The landlord will have few eviction rights and in most cases you will be entitled to stay as long as you like (provided you pay the rent).
In that case it will often be to your disadvantage to sign any new tenancy agreement, so your best option is just to say ‘no’. If you are thinking of signing, you should take legal advice first.
So there you are! You are in quite a strong position. You landlord does not have any special rights to evict you, and the rights you have under your tenancy agreement will remain the same.
Don’t let your landlord try to tell you otherwise or bully you into moving out!
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