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What to Know When a Tenant's Landlord Changes

When one rents the place they live, there is always an uncertainty of what will happen if the property is sold. If such a situation happens, this can be a cause of great anxiety and uncertainty for the renter. There are protections for renters in such a situation.

When the property is put up for sale, a renter has rights as to the showing of the property. While the owner is entitled to show the property they are selling, the tenant in the property has a right to have reasonable notification of the property being shown and for the showing to be at a reasonable time. California law requires a tenant to be given at least 24 hours notice before the property is to be shown. What is a reasonable time can be subjective and will depend on the circumstances. For example, a showing at midnight is generally considered unreasonable. But if someone works nights, a late night or early morning showing that might usually be considered unreasonable might fit well with the tenants individual schedule. A renter should communicate with the owner or realtor in coordinating what is the best times to schedule a showing.

If there is a lease in place, the remaining term of the lease still holds under the new landlord. Apart from who the rent is paid to, nothing else changes for the renter. The renter is still liable for all provisions in the lease, and the new landlord is likewise liable for the provisions which had applied to the previous landlord. While this does give a renter certain protection to remain it also gives the new landlord rights should the tenant fail to pay as required or breaches a duty under the lease. Because of this, it is important for a renter to continue to honor all obligations in their lease.

If a new owner wishes to take possession of the property prior to the expiration of the lease, they can offer to buy out the remainder of the lease. This is entirely voluntary and a renter is under no obligation to accept any offer to buy out the remainder of the lease. Should a renter decide to accept a buyout, they cannot later claim the right to remain if they encounter difficulty in finding a new residence

If a renter is under a month to month tenancy, obviously the renter has fewer rights as there is no lease in place with fixed terms and provisions. However, this does not mean the renter has no rights at all. While the new landlord can claim the property or raise the rent, absent local ordinance provisions such as rent control, the new landlord must give proper notice. To claim the property and remove the renter notice is required at the month period. In California, if the renter has been a tenant for less than a year a 30 day notice is required. If the renter has been a tenant for over a year a 60 day notice is required. For increasing the rent, the time of notice depends on the amount the landlord intends to raise the rent. If the increase is 10% or less a 30 day notice is required. If the increase is more than 10% a 60 day notice is required.

In all cases, the change of a landlord has no effect on the security deposit. The return of a security deposit is still contingent only upon the condition of the premises. The renter who vacates is entitle to return of their security deposit or an itemized list of any deductions within 21 days of vacating.


If you're a new landlord looking to make changes to existing leases or a tenant trying to figure out their rights under a new landlord, call our office for a FREE phone consultation: +1(800)-233-8521


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