Tenant’s Guide: The property you’re renting is going on the market. How to guide

Tenant's Guide The property you're renting is going on the market. How to guide

Tenant’s Guide: Preparing Rental Property for Sale – You’re a tenant and your property manager or land lord has just called to let you know that the property is going on the market. How do you know what to do next? As a tenant, you have a significant role in ensuring the rental property is well-maintained and presentable during the sale process. Not only does this benefit your landlord and the real estate agent, but it also reflects positively on you as a tenant. By keeping the property clean and tidy, you can increase the chances of attracting potential buyers and impressing them enough to consider retaining you as a tenant under new ownership. Here’s a checklist to help you get your rental property ready for sale:

Where to start?

  1. Prioritize Cleaning:
    Start by giving the entire property a thorough cleaning. Dust and clean all surfaces, including floors, countertops, appliances, and windows. A sparkling clean space sets the right impression for potential buyers.
  2. Declutter and Organise:
    Clear out any unnecessary clutter, personal items, and excessive furniture. A well-organized space appears more spacious and allows potential buyers to envision themselves living in the property.
  3. Maintain Outdoor Areas:
    If your rental property has a garden, patio, or balcony, make sure to keep them tidy. Trim the bushes, mow the lawn, and remove any debris or rubbish from the outdoor areas.
  4. Address Minor Repairs:
    Fix any minor issues in the property, such as leaky faucets, loose doorknobs, or burnt-out light bulbs. Small repairs can significantly impact the overall impression of the property.
  5. Keep the Kitchen and Bathrooms Immaculate:
    Pay extra attention to the kitchen and bathrooms, as these are critical selling points. Ensure they are spotless, and consider adding fresh, clean towels and a few decorative elements to create a welcoming atmosphere.
  6. Enhance Lighting:
    Ensure that all the light fixtures are working correctly and provide adequate lighting throughout the property. Well-lit spaces look more appealing in photographs and during inspections.
  7. Maintain the Property’s Presentation during Showings:
    Be cooperative with the real estate agent and accommodate showings to potential buyers as much as possible. Keep the property in top condition during these visits to leave a lasting positive impression.
  8. Familiarise Yourself with Tenancy Laws:
    Inquire about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant during the property sale process in your area. Understand the notice periods required for inspections and viewings, as well as your rights to privacy during this time.
  9. Communicate with the Landlord and Real Estate Agent:
    Stay in touch with your landlord and the real estate agent handling the sale. Discuss any concerns you may have and be open to finding mutually agreeable solutions.
  10. Be Positive and Professional:
    Remember that the sale of the property can be a sensitive time for both you and the landlord. Maintain a positive attitude and act professionally throughout the process.

What happens to my lease after the sale?

As a tenant, it’s natural to have concerns about your lease when the rental property you are living in is put up for sale. Let’s address what typically happens to your lease after the property is sold:

  1. Lease Continuation:
    In most cases, when a property is sold, the new owner becomes the new landlord. Your lease agreement remains valid, and your tenancy generally continues unaffected by the sale. As a tenant, you have the right to remain in the property until the end of your lease term, subject to the terms and conditions outlined in your lease agreement.
  2. Review of Lease Terms:
    After the sale, the new landlord may request a review of your current lease agreement. They may want to familiarize themselves with the terms, including the lease duration, rent amount, and any other conditions that apply to your tenancy.
  3. Security Deposit:
    Your security deposit, if held by the previous landlord, should be transferred to the new landlord upon the sale. This ensures that your deposit remains protected and is accounted for as per the residential tenancy laws in your area.
  4. Communication with the New Landlord:
    The real estate agent or property management company handling the sale should facilitate communication between you and the new landlord. The new landlord may reach out to introduce themselves and discuss any changes that might affect you as a tenant.
  5. Changes in Property Management:
    In some cases, the new landlord may choose to manage the property themselves or hire a new property management company. If there is a change in property management, you’ll be informed about the new contact information and any adjustments in the process for submitting maintenance requests or paying rent.
  6. Renewal or Termination of Lease:
    Once your lease approaches its end, the new landlord may offer you a lease renewal if they wish to continue having you as a tenant. Alternatively, they may decide not to renew your lease or propose changes to the lease terms. In such cases, you have the option to negotiate or consider alternative housing options.
  7. Tenancy Agreement and Laws:
    Throughout the process, both your existing tenancy agreement and the local residential tenancy laws will remain applicable. The new landlord must adhere to these laws, and you are entitled to your rights and protections as a tenant.
  8. Potential Benefits:
    In some cases, the new landlord might see value in retaining responsible and reliable tenants. If you have been maintaining the property well and have a good rental history, they may be motivated to continue your tenancy as it can ensure steady rental income and less hassle in finding new occupants.

Can I stay home during the home opens?

As a tenant, you have certain rights and responsibilities regarding home opens or property inspections during the sale of your rental property. In Western Australia, the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 governs the relationship between landlords and tenants, including access to the property for inspections.

During the sale process, the real estate agent representing the landlord may schedule home opens or viewings to allow potential buyers to visit the property. Here’s what you need to know about your rights during this time:

  1. Reasonable Access:
    The law requires tenants to allow reasonable access to the property for inspections and viewings. “Reasonable access” means that the real estate agent or landlord must provide you with sufficient notice before conducting an inspection, and the proposed time should be within standard business hours or other mutually agreed-upon times.
  2. Notice Period:
    The Residential Tenancies Act specifies that you must receive a written notice of the inspection at least 7 days in advance. However, you and the landlord or agent can mutually agree to a shorter notice period in some cases.
  3. Privacy and Security:
    While you are required to allow access for inspections, your privacy and security must be respected. The real estate agent or landlord should take care to ensure that potential buyers are accompanied during the inspection, and they should not interfere with your possessions or personal space.
  4. Reasonable Frequency:
    Inspections should not be excessively frequent, and the number of home opens should be kept to a reasonable level.
  5. Presence During Inspections:
    As a tenant, you have the right to be present during inspections if you wish to be there. However, it’s essential to maintain a cooperative and professional attitude during these visits.
  6. Cooperation:
    Being cooperative during the sale process can benefit both you and the landlord. A well-presented property increases the chances of a successful sale, and if potential buyers are impressed with how you maintain the property, they may be more inclined to retain you as a tenant after the sale.
  7. Temporary Vacating:
    If you choose to temporarily vacate the property during home opens, discuss this with the landlord or real estate agent to find a suitable arrangement. However, the decision to vacate during inspections is entirely up to you, and you are not obligated to do so.

Can I purchase the property that I’m renting?

Yes, in many cases, tenants have the option to purchase the property they are currently renting. This process is commonly known as a “rent-to-own” or “lease-to-own” arrangement. However, whether you can purchase the property you are renting depends on various factors, including the willingness of the landlord to sell and your ability to secure financing for the purchase.

Here’s how the process typically works:

  1. Expressing Interest:
    If you are interested in purchasing the property you are renting, you should first express your interest to the landlord. Let them know that you are considering buying the property and inquire if they are open to selling.
  2. Negotiating Terms:
    If the landlord is willing to sell, you will need to negotiate the terms of the sale. This includes agreeing on the purchase price, the timeline for the purchase, and any other relevant conditions.
  3. Rent Credit:
    In some rent-to-own agreements, a portion of the rent paid by the tenant is credited toward the purchase price of the property. This can help accumulate equity over time, making it easier for the tenant to secure financing for the purchase.
  4. Contractual Agreement:
    To formalize the rent-to-own arrangement, a written contract is typically drawn up outlining the terms and conditions of the sale. This contract is legally binding and protects both the tenant-buyer and the landlord-seller.
  5. Financing the Purchase:
    As the tenant-buyer, you will need to secure financing to complete the purchase of the property. This can be through a mortgage loan or any other agreed-upon method of payment.
  6. Closing the Sale:
    Once the agreed-upon purchase price and terms have been fulfilled, the sale is closed, and the property is officially transferred from the landlord to you, the tenant-buyer.

It’s important to note that rent-to-own arrangements can be complex, and it’s crucial to seek legal advice and work with a real estate professional to ensure that the process is carried out correctly and fairly.

Additionally, not all landlords may be interested in selling the property they are renting, and they have the right to decline the tenant’s offer to purchase. In such cases, you would need to explore other options if you are determined to buy a property.

If you are considering purchasing the property you are renting, initiate a conversation with your landlord and discuss your interest in buying. From there, you can explore the possibilities and determine if a rent-to-own arrangement is feasible for both parties.

What if the new owners want to live in the property

If the rental property you are currently occupying is sold to new owners who wish to live in the property themselves, it could lead to a change in your tenancy status. Here’s how the situation might unfold:

  1. Notice of Termination:
    Depending on the residential tenancy laws in your area, the new owners may be required to provide you with a notice of termination. The notice period will typically vary from 30 to 90 days, giving you sufficient time to find alternative accommodation.
  2. End of Tenancy:
    Once the notice period expires, your tenancy agreement will come to an end, and you’ll need to vacate the property. Ensure you comply with the notice requirements and vacate the property by the specified date.
  3. Rights and Relocation Assistance:
    In some jurisdictions, there might be laws that provide certain rights and relocation assistance to tenants in case the property is sold, and the new owners intend to occupy it. This could include financial compensation or additional time to find a new home.
  4. Communication with New Owners:
    It is essential to communicate with the new owners during this process. Discussing your situation and demonstrating that you are a responsible tenant may lead to some flexibility in the timeline or potential arrangements that could benefit both parties.
  5. Finding New Accommodation:
    Once you receive the notice of termination, start looking for new accommodation immediately. It’s essential to be proactive and allow enough time to secure a new place to live.
  6. Security Deposit:
    Before you vacate the property, ensure that you have followed the proper procedures to reclaim your security deposit from the previous landlord. The new owners should handle this process according to the tenancy laws in your area.
  7. Exiting the Property:
    On the agreed-upon date, ensure that you leave the property in good condition, following any move-out procedures outlined in your tenancy agreement. Hand over the keys to the new owners or their representatives.
  8. Tenancy Records:
    Before you leave, keep copies of all relevant tenancy documentation, such as the lease agreement, notices, and any communication with the previous and new landlords.
  9. New Rental Agreement:
    With the impending expiration of the current tenancy agreement, the tenant may need to draft a new agreement, especially if there’s a change in ownership. This could involve negotiating a new weekly rent amount with the new owners to establish updated terms and ensure a smooth transition.

Remember, the new owners have the right to occupy the property if they intend to use it as their primary residence. While this situation might be challenging for you as a tenant, it is a normal part of the rental process when the property changes ownership. It is crucial to be aware of your rights as a tenant and the applicable residential tenancy laws in your area to ensure a smooth and fair transition.

What happens when the property is under offer?

After the sale of a house, several key steps typically follow to ensure a smooth transition and protect the interests of all parties involved.

  • Building and Pest Inspection:
    • Assessment of property condition and identification of issues.
    • Ensures the property meets safety and regulatory standards.
  • Buyer’s Representative and Property Viewing:
    • Buyer’s representative schedules a property visit.
    • Discussion of concerns and arrangements with existing tenants.
    • Open communication to inform tenants of ownership change.
  • Buyers Final Inspection:
    • Verification of tenant vacancy as per tenancy agreement.
    • Addressing required repairs or cleaning.
    • Settling financial matters, such as security deposits.
  • Smooth Transition:
    • Coordinated effort between new owners, buyers’ representative, and tenants.
    • Positive experience and clear communication during property transfer.

To wrap up

As a tenant, playing an active role in preparing your rental property for sale can make a significant difference in its presentation and appeal to potential buyers. By following this checklist and taking pride in maintaining the property’s cleanliness and tidiness, you can contribute to a successful sale and demonstrate that you are a responsible and respectful tenant. Keeping the property in great condition can even lead to potential benefits, such as the possibility of continuing your tenancy under new ownership.

To view the full tenant guide click here. To receive a property appraisal for your property click here

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