What to Do When Your Landlord is Selling Your Building or House

What to Do When Your Landlord is Selling Your Building or House

What to Do When Your Landlord is Selling Your Building or House


What to Do When Your Landlord is Selling Your Building or House

It can make you nervous when you hear the news that your landlord is selling the building or house where you live. Read on to learn what to expect when your landlord puts their rental property up for sale.

The first thing to realize is that when a building gets sold, the new owner steps into the shoes of the old owner. This means that any oral or written agreements that you had with your landlord will also apply to your agreement with the new owner. You aren't obligated to sign a new lease. If the new owner does request this, then the new lease must be significantly similar to the old one.

Rent Increases

If you are covered by the SF Rent Ordinance, the new landlord can't raise your rent any higher than the allowable annual increases. But if your former landlord hadn't increased your rent for a long time, the new landlord may be able to impose a "banked" rent increase, an increase where they can add up all of the increases that the former landlord never applied.

Tenant Estoppel Certificates

You might be asked to fill out an Estoppel Certificate, which is a document that lays out the existing rights of current tenants. If your lease doesn't have specific language that requires it, you don't have to complete one. However, there are advantages to doing it because you want to be able to establish and maintain certain rights and privileges, such as if you have an agreement with the landlord to have a pet, despite the "no pets policy" or you had permission to sublet. Another way this could be important is if you're a protected tenant; you will want to the owners to be aware of this sooner rather than later.

Can New Owners Evict Current Tenants?

A normal concern is about whether the new owners can evict you. In San Francisco, there must be "just cause" to evict; mere new ownership doesn't qualify under this. However, the new owners may try to use other means to evict you:

  • Owner Move-in (OMIs): The new owner could attempt to evict you be moving into your unit or moving in one of their relatives, as long as it's in "good faith" (they have an honest motivation) and that they follow certain rules. This includes a 30-day notice, move-in within 3 months of eviction, and residing for at least 3 years. If "bad faith" is suspected, you can sue for damages. Some tenants may have protected tenant status due to age, disability, and illness.
  • Ellis Act: This eviction concerns a state law that allows landlords to "get out of the rental business." Under most circumstances, all of the tenants in the building must be evicted, not just you. There are many restrictions imposed on them with this law, and it's very detailed and complex. While it may be difficult to defend against an Ellis Act eviction, it's wise to check with an experienced attorney to explore options.

Dealing with New Owners? Contact an Experienced Tenants' Rights Lawyer

Adjusting to a new situation can be unpredictable. If you're experiencing problems that come with new ownership, act in your best interest, and contact an experienced attorney. Our Wolford Wayne attorneys are ready to protect your rights and try to get you to a positive outcome. Contact us today to get started.





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