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A Renter’s Rights When the House Is for Sale


January 12, 2019

Written by:

Abhi Sreerama

Even though the housing market in the U.S. continues to improve, many homes still don’t sell fast. A popular way to offset the cost of a home you want to sell but cannot is to rent it while you continue to sell it. If a home isn’t expected to sell fast, it’s not uncommon to hire a property management company in Missouri City that will manage the occupancy and maintain the home during this process, and in many cases, the real estate company and property management firm are one in the same. In other scenarios, a land owner will rent with the intent to keep the property but will then change his or her mind sometime after the lease agreement is made. In either circumstance, the renter has rights, and property owners and managers need to be aware of these renters rights when house is for sale.

A calendar with rent due reminder

The Owner’s Right to Sell

Before we discuss renters rights when house is for sale, we need to frame it with the rights of the landowner. The landowner has the right to sell at any time. When a landowner rents a home, he or she relinquishes the right to possession but not the rights to use that asset for other purposes. The owner and any agents are under no legal obligation to impart such information either. In other words, if a real estate agent knows that a house is or will soon be on the market, he or she isn’t required by law to tell a prospective tenant. There does, of course, come a time when the tenant does have a right to know, such as when the property owner requires access to the home due to it.

The Right to Possession

A tenant acquires the exclusive right to possession by agreeing to a lease and living up to that agreement, such as paying rent. If the owner or any agents come onto that property without consent, they’re trespassing. There are times when property managers in Missouri City don’t require consent, but they’re still required to give notice and their rights are limited so the tenant still has the upper hand. Under no circumstances can a property owner require a tenant to leave his or her home. Even if a Realtor wants to show the home or a property management firm needs to perform maintenance, the tenant has the right to sit in the living room and play his trombone, for instance, if he wishes.

The Right to Control Access

For the purposes of maintaining or selling the residence, the owner and any agents have the right to access with reasonable notice and during standard business hours. Reasonable notice generally means 24 or 48 hours. Standard business hours generally mean Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm, but there has been a trend with judges viewing 9am – 5pm on Saturday and Sunday as standard business hours for real estate agents. When these conditions are met, a tenant can’t deny access to a landlord or agent. Under all other circumstances, the tenant has complete control over access and can simply say no.

The Right to Sue for a Restraining Order

Tenants also have the right to temporary and more permanent restraining orders in order to assert their right to control access. It’s not unusual for issues to arise between tenants and aggressive Realtors, and it’s possible for property managers in Missouri City to be indefinitely banned from setting foot on the property if such an order is awarded. The courts can also award a retroactive reduction in rent in order to offset the disruption and other difficulties the tenant has endured.

The Right to the Lease as Is

A lease is an agreement to transfer the right of possession from a property owner to a tenant. A lease is a legally binding agreement, and it exists as part of that property for the length of its term. In other words, when a person purchases property that currently has a lease, that person is also purchasing and obligated to that lease. The tenant has a right to the lease agreed to, which means that a new owner cannot simply make changes to the lease because he or she didn’t personally agree to the original contract. The new owner can, however, negotiate changes with the tenant.

The Right to a 30 Days’ Notice

If applicable, a renters rights when the house is for sale includes the right to a 30 days’ notice. This is a particularly important point when leases are on a month-to-month basis, which is common when an owner is selling or plans to sell. Generally, the property owner or property management company in Missouri City has to give 30 days’ notice from the end of the current month. In other words, if it’s currently mid-July, the tenant could rent during August as well and would have to be gone after August 31.


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