Selling rental property with tenants is the prime way to sell in some scenarios. You might own a property in a university town where the buyers will welcome the opportunity of buying with tenants. Or you desperately want to cash out the equity on the house.
But it’s not always smooth sailing, especially when your tenants are adamant. And when buyers prefer to buy a vacant house.
Not to worry. You can still sell the house while tenants are present with timing and careful consideration of specific laws. I’ll show how to tell you’re in the perfect situation to sell and throw in some selling tips.
Let’s get to it.
Can You Sell Your Rental Property With Tenants In Place?
Yes, but it might be difficult based on the situation you find yourself in.
The most important step is to examine the rental agreement you have with your tenants. Then, you can follow the guidelines and tips below to make an informed decision on what to do with such information.
Now, you’ll likely encounter one of these two tenant agreements — month-to-month and fixed-term lease. Here’s how to handle both.
How To Sell With Tenants On A Month-To-Month Lease
If your tenants pay rent monthly, you’ll sell an occupied property with greater ease. It’s this simple. Send a formal notice to the tenant stating when you want them out of the house. You don’t even have to mention the intent of the eviction.
Check your state’s laws regarding giving quit notices to know the number of days.
Selling A Rental Property With Tenants On a Fixed-Term Lease
The mountain to climb is if the occupants signed a fixed-term lease. And you must thread carefully when you find yourself in this situation. Your only options are to wait out the lease or negotiate with tenants.
Option #1. Wait For The Lease To Expire
The first option available to you is to wait till the tenant’s rent expires. While this has its own benefits, many things can go wrong as you wait.
Selling a vacant property it’s not without its benefits though.
Why You Should Wait
First, you can renovate and stage the house to sell at a higher price — compared to when you sell now.
If you’re lucky, you can evict tenants on grounds of bad conduct. However, it’s a rare opportunity. I took the opportunity myself some years ago. A rouge tenant knew about the landlord’s plan to sell the house then he started defaulting on payment — and damaging utilities.
We served him a quit notice and he was gone in a few months. Needless to say, it was worth the stress of attending court meetings. Plus it saved the landlord waiting three more months before he could put the house for sale.
We ended up selling it during the spring season for way more than if we still had tenants in situ. So the wait was worth it.
Another benefit of waiting until rent expires is that you don’t go through the experience of forceful eviction. It can be messy. And you don’t have to make ridiculous compensations for tenants to move before closing. Plus, you won’t fidget if the house sells faster — because you’re ready.
However, I’ll be lying if I don’t mention paying the mortgage for a vacant house is no joke. You’ll cover monthly payment costs out-of-pocket during the renovation, listing, and closing of the property.
Not to mention it’s likely the tenants would’ve stopped paying rent when you served them quit notice.
Option #2. Negotiate With Your Tenants
Sometimes, you have no option but to sell within a particular period. In a time-centric situation, negotiate with your tenants for early termination of their lease.
Of course, your relationship with tenants would what compensation you approach with — or if at all. If you had a sore relationship, some iffy tenants may turn down all offers just to frustrate you. And more often than not, do some damage on their way out.
I like to give my tenants their 2-month notice and list the house at the same time. My offer is usually to cover the moving costs and be flexible with time.
Other compensation options include:
- Discount rent during the notice period.
- Offer a reasonable amount of money.
- Pay security deposit for their next apartment.
Again, where you stand with your tenants plays a large role on in the acceptance of your offer. Play your cards accordingly. And please, try not to hand them a notice during festivities. Be human.
Option #3: Sell To A Tenant
Another episode on standings with tenants. Selling to your tenants can be match-making made from heaven if you trust each other.
Sure, you may end up selling below the asking price. But you’ll save expenses on prepping, staging, or listing the house with an agent.
Nonetheless, you might need an estate agent, escrow company, or attorney to draft the purchase agreement. But it’s more cost-efficient if both parties got a lawyer.
You’ll also need to carry out an inspection to reveal unknown issues, like a normal sale.
At the end of the day, it’s a win-win. Your tenant buys below market price and you save thousands of dollars in expenses.
Factors To Consider When You’re Selling To Your Tenant
It takes a sweet relationship with your tenants for this deal to be a success. Most landlord-tenant deals I’ve experienced usually have 5 or more years of living together between them.
Tips For Successfully Selling A Property With Tenants In SITU
Selling a house with tenants SITU means, in place. I promised to give proven tips I’ve learned in the field and from expert advice. Here they are folks.
Tip #1: Assess Your Stomach For Risks
Can you afford a mortgage if you forcefully evict tenants? Do you mind selling as-is for a lower asking price? Do you need to sell ASAP to buy another property?
It’s questions like these you need to answer first before you decide. Weigh the benefits and consequences of your actions. And consider whether your tenants won’t screw you over intentionally.
Tip #2: Negotiate The Date For House Showing
You’re a landlord, not a tyrant. Give tenants a 24 hours notice ahead of a showing day.
Actually, this isn’t a bit of advice, but the law in most states. Besides, it works in your favor too. A good tenant will clean up their mess before your agent and buyer arrive on the property.
That’s why you shouldn’t just give a notice, but also work with the occupant’s schedule. You might think the weekend is a good time, but your tenant is free during the week. This enquiry shows you respect their privacy, and they’ll repay you in kind.
Tip #3: Review Terms Of The Lease Agreement
As you know, you can’t evict a tenant who signed a fixed-lease agreement until the contract ends. But you poke for loopholes in the contract, such as an early termination clause.
The clause allows the landlord to evict tenants after 30, 60, or 90 days of selling the property. So if they had 8 left months on their lease, you can displace them earlier. But you should give compensation, even though it isn’t compulsory.
If in doubt, hire a real estate attorney to help you search the document for possible solutions.
Tip #4: Consult With An Experienced Agent
An experienced real estate agent is your gateway to buyers interested in a property with tenants.
They have a speed dial of investors in hand or know someone with the right contacts. It could be the best use of your agent fees.
With a qualified agent, you could close the deal in less than a few weeks. A mountain biker on Single Track, who contacted a local agent sold his rental property with tenants in a week — for 5k below the asking price.
He ended up paying the agent £3,000 but didn’t flinch. In his words, it might seem like money for “no work” but it was well worth it.
Tip #5 Approach Your Tenant About Selling
Offer the house to your tenants for sale. Sometimes, a tenant might be interested in buying but has no idea how to approach the seller.
For example, an ignorant tenant moved out and hired an agent to bid on the house. Eventually, he bought the house and had to move in again! This is a total waste of money and energy for the tenant and the landlord.
Approaching the tenant would’ve changed everything. They’d save on realtor fees, moving costs, probably mortgage while the house was vacant.
Tip #6 Sell Without Tenants
If all the means of selling with tenants are fruitless, go for the sale without tenants. Sure, it’s a hard pill to swallow but beats breaking the law by illegally evicting tenants.
What you should do now is focus on getting the most out of the sale. Clean up and declutter, repaint, and stage the house to improve its market value.
Tip #7: Make Lemonade from Lime
A poor standing with your tenant might be your chance to evict them early on.
If you have delinquent tenants you can evict them without delay. Offer to forgo the owned tax in exchange for them to move out.
Tip #8 Make Accommodation Provision
Nobody wants to be homeless. Not even if it means staying with their parents or loved one for a while. But you can relieve your tenants of thinking you’re out to get them. Remember, some of them might hurt your chances of selling the property for a good deal.
Offer to provide accommodation for your displaced tenants in another house, if you have multiple rental properties. Of course, they’ll pay rent. Otherwise you can refer them to a reliable estate agent in the area.
Pros Of Selling Rental Property With Tenants In It
Good For Investors
Investors are one of the few buyers who’re happy to buy a house with tenants living in it. They can assess cash flow generation and start receiving rent immediately.
Unsurprisingly, multi-family apartments and condos are prime targets for investors.
Natural Home Staging
Staging a home costs anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars — depending on the size of your home. With your tenant’s furniture in place, you’ll save the cost of staging.
And buyers can picture what it’s like to live in the house at no cost to you.
Disclaimer: your tenants must be neat and orderly to make this work. That’s why it’s beneficial to form a workable relationship with tenants before and during the sale.
Drawbacks To Selling Rental Property With Tenants
Lousy Tenants Make A Fuss At Showings
Most tenants don’t take an eviction notice to sell their house likely.
A good example is a tenant who’s interested in buying his single-family rental. He made it his aim to frustrate competing buyers during showings — and it was easy. It wasn’t until years later that my buddy discovered what happened.
Weird as that sounds, it’s good news since he bought the house. Some fussy tenants may damage the house out of spite!
Tenants Paying Rent Below Market Value
Tenants who pay below-average rent will hurt the value of your property. A lady living in my mom’s 1-bed in New York paid only $2,000 monthly when the average was $3,000.
But here’s the kicker. Interested buyers will adjust their offer to cover the rent deficit. That’s another thousand dollars or more shaved off the house’s value — considering it wasn’t renovated.
Selling rental property with tenants proves straightforward when dealing with a an interested buyer. All you have to do is give the tenants a notice when you receive an offer. At the end of the day, you’re happy, the buyer gets his property, and the tenants get to keep their home.
Problems arise when the buyer wants a vacant house and your tenants don’t want to leave. You might be the landlord, but you can’t evict your tenants at will. Neither can you force them to break their lease agreement.
If negotiations also prove unhelpful, you may have to wait till the expiration of their lease.
So, it all boils down to weighing your options and choosing wisely.
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