With rental prices rising in the UK, more and more tenants are looking to stay in properties for the long term.

A recent survey from HomeLet found that 18% of landlords are looking to leave the market or reduce their property portfolio, meaning many may wish to sell despite still having tenants in their property.

What should you expect?

A sitting tenant is a renter living in a property that their landlord decides to sell. If the tenant has an ongoing contract or agreement with their original landlord, they retain the right to live in the property when it changes hands.

Some landlords actively look to purchase properties with sitting tenants as it could offer a settled and more reliable proposition if the tenants have already lived in the property for a long time.

Sitting tenants are more likely to want to stay in the property for a longer period, and save the new landlord the job of finding suitable tenants.

What should you expect?

If your landlord informs you they are going to sell the property you’re living in, several things might occur once the property has changed hands.

The new landlord may:

  • allow the tenancy to continue as before;
  • try to evict you if they want new tenants or to stop letting the property;
  • make plans to improve or renovate the property.

What are your rights?

When purchasing the rental property, the new landlord takes on your existing Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) and is bound by the original tenancy agreement as you are.

If your tenancy agreement is an AST - which is highly likely - then the landlord will, however, be entitled to evict you by serving a Section 21 notice.

What procedures should be followed?

The vast majority of the administration, paperwork and responsibility falls on the side of the new landlord when it comes to sitting tenants. However, there are some things which you can look out for and monitor to make sure the changeover runs smoothly.

It's good practice to meet your new landlord. Although it is up to them to organise and suggest a meeting, make the effort to be available. Putting a face to a name can benefit both parties in the long run.

When the property sale is completed, you should see an S3 notice to inform you of the transfer of interest in the property. You’ll also see an S48 and/or S47 notice detailing who your new landlord is.

Upon taking ownership of the property, the new landlord will need to contact the deposit protection scheme with which your deposit is being held and change the details. It could be worth asking if the landlord doesn't confirm this with you. What's more, if they transfer your deposit between schemes, make sure they provide you with the prescribed information as this is a legal requirement.

If you are a sitting tenant, in most cases, it’s unlikely that much will change except for the fact that you’ll be dealing with a new landlord. The chances are the new owner will be enthusiastic about the property they’ve just purchased and therefore willing to invest in improving it and subsequently keeping long-term tenants happy.

That said, if your landlord is selling your property and you have any concerns about the process or your legal rights, it’s best to get in touch with a legal expert, housing charity, experienced letting agent or Citizens Advice for guidance.

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