Can you sell a property with tenants in situ?

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Tenants can sometimes complicate matters when selling a home, especially since it can put off those who want to immediately move in.

So what’s the answer?

Serve your tenants notice

Even if you’re planning on selling your property, you still need to abide by the terms of the lease. For example, if it’s an assured shorthold tenancy, you will need to wait until the end of the initial six-month period. Whatever you do, be sure to check the terms of the lease to ensure you’re giving the correct notice.

Once the end of the lease period is approaching, in the vast majority of cases you’ll have to give 60 days unless the tenants have broken the terms of their lease. Fill out a Section 21 notice, and also a certification of service form (N215).

A further complication could arise if you have tenants in situ whilst conducting viewings. After all, nobody likes moving, and it’s worse when you’re being forced to do so.

The key here is communication and sympathy. By providing a generous notice period, it gives your tenants time to adjust to the move and to get their finances and logistics in order.

The downside to this approach, of course, you could be losing rental income while your property is on the market, which might prove to be expensive. If you have a mortgage, you need to carry on making payments, and you’ll still have to pay council tax even when it’s vacated.

Leave the tenants in situ
This is the option that many landlords go for, as it maintains the income from the property, and it makes it marketable to other property investors. It also shows that the property is lettable, and it means the tenants don’t have to move.

Although this also creates worry for the tenants, it means you don’t have to serve notice, and it means they have some stability for at least 60 days after the exchange of contracts (you cannot guarantee that the new owner won’t give them notice).

Of course, you will still need to give at least 24 hours’ notice for viewings, and there’s little chance to stage the house – after all, your tenants are still living in it. This could make it harder to get a successful sale.

You could come to a compromise with your tenants, such as offering a month of reduced rent for the inconvenience of accompanied viewings. If your relationship with your tenants is good, you have a better chance of getting their cooperation and making that sale.

Ultimately, the path you choose depends on the type of buyer you wish to attract. Serving your tenants notice before embarking on the selling process might make life easier, but it’s also the more expensive path and often isn’t necessary.

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