The right to remain
The tenant in situ (the tenant currently living in the property) is legally permitted to stay in your property until the end of the set tenancy period - even if the property changes owner and the new owner's name is not on the property’s original tenancy documents. The original lease arrangements between the tenant and the former landlord must be honoured by the new landlord.
The new landlord can change the tenancy agreement, but they must do so in accordance with the law, especially if they plan to evict the current tenants.
The right to peaceful enjoyment
The tenant has the right to ‘peaceful enjoyment’ - living in your property, undisturbed. You cannot show prospective buyers around the property without your tenant's permission - and the same applies to estate agents.
In order to welcome potential buyers, you must send written notice at least 24 hours in advance of viewing, and they must take place at a reasonable time. This means not at sunrise or exceedingly late hours. Failing to give proper notice means that the tenant can refuse entry, so it is vital that you understand your legal responsibilities to communicate the sale process properly or risk delaying the process entirely.
You are also responsible for fixing any problems with the property whilst you still are still the legal owner. If the boiler breaks, you will have to sort out the issue as you normally would. Even if you have agreed on a sale of the property and it is already going through, until the sale is completed, you must undertake the responsibilities outlined in the tenancy agreement.
It is common for landlords to start the sale process of their property while there are no tenants actively living in the property - but there is a legal tenant agreement in place. Even if there are no current occupiers, but there is a legal tenant, you cannot force the tenant to pack up and leave; you must follow legal protocol. If the tenant is new and the contract has a break clause, you must give them at least two months’ notice prior to the moving-out date. If there is no break clause in the contract or they have passed it already, you may serve them the two months’ notice before the tenancy is due to finish.
You can also evict your tenant if they have broken the tenancy agreement. Common acts that fall under a breach of contract include a failure to pay rent for at least two months or the tenant engaging in antisocial behaviour - for example, they have caused significant damage to the property. In such cases, you will only need to give them 14 days’ notice - but you must have evidence of the grounds for eviction. Read how we can advise you with evictions here and find out more about your legal rights as a landlord to evict.
Find out how to approach a property sale with a tenant
If you are looking to sell a property with a tenant in situ, you must ensure that you follow your legal requirements and respect the tenant’s rights. To undertake this process efficiently and correctly, seek the help of legal tenancy experts, such as AST Assistance. Having helped many landlords in your position, we know how to best deal with a tenancy whilst you are selling a property.