Active Rain March 31, 2010

Tenants’ Rights

One of the most misunderstood aspects of real estate is the tension on the part of agents, landlords and tenants when it comes to the sale of the rental property. It is really a 3-headed monster. 

Landlords selling their property often want to “keep it a secret” that the building is for sale; they fear that the renters will leave if they find out.

Tenants are often suspicious and uncooperative with showings, because they fear that new owners will force them to move from their home.  

Agents view tenants as problem children, because they are not easy to confirm showings with, are hard to reach, or do not allow access despite the terms of their lease requiring cooperation. Because of this, many agents dislike listing rental property or don’t give it their best effort.  

These misconceptions often make an otherwise straight forward process a nightmare. It does not have to be that way.Tenants who have a lease in force are protected from being forced to move by the terms of their lease.

In the State of New York, all rental property is sold subject to tenants’ rights. Simply put, no owner, old or new, can break a lease. If a tenant has a 3-year lease and the home changes ownership 6 months into the term, they still have 2 1/2 years of right to quiet enjoyment of their home. This is the case if King King himself bought the place. He can’t break their contract. 

If more people understood this fact, there would be far fewer problems selling rental property, and tenants would sleep far better at night. Rather than the landlord and listing agent conspiring to work in stealth, the better course of action would be to be upfront with the tenants, remind and reassure them of their rights, and operate transparently thereafter without the cloak and dagger headaches.