Nadel & Ciarlo, P.C.

When a home is sold, a lease stays with the house

You're interested in buying a new home and moving into it with your family. Your offer gets accepted, but there's one catch: The home is a rental, and the tenants are still there. The lease doesn't run out for six months. Now what?

You may assume that you could just evict the tenants. After all, they signed the agreement with the previous owner. That was his or her decision, but that owner is no longer involved. As the new owner, don't you have a right to do what you want with your property?

You do not. A lease actually isn't an agreement that stays with the person who owns the property; it stays with the property itself. The tenants have a right to live in that house for six months, no matter who holds the deed.

You could turn right around and sell the house again, and that third owner would still have to abide by the lease, even though neither one of you agreed to it in the first place.

You also cannot change the lease in a significant way to try to force them out. If they were allowed to have pets before, for instance, you can't add a clause saying no pets are allowed and then use that as grounds for eviction. You can't double the rent and then evict them when they can't pay.

It's very important to know all of this at the beginning of the real estate transaction. Make sure you understand all of the legal obligations you have and what you're really agreeing to when you buy the property.

Source: Investopedia, "Buying a House with Tenants: A Quick Guide," Jean Folger, accessed Jan. 04, 2018

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