Selling a Tenanted Rental Property: An Essential Guide to Selling a House With Tenants

Picture of Leticia Dubois, Ph.D.

Leticia Dubois, Ph.D.

Selling a tenanted rental property can be a complex process, requiring careful consideration of legal obligations and tenant rights.

Section 24 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (as amended) now prohibits landlords from deducting mortgage interest and other finance costs, including mortgage arrangement fees, from their rental income before tax.

Consequently, numerous landlords have found themselves at a financial disadvantage and are now keen to divest their properties.

Tenanted properties hold significant value, particularly when a steady stream of monthly rent contributes to one’s financial stability.

While the prospect of retaining the property and witnessing its appreciation in value may seem appealing, many fail to recognise the additional responsibilities that accompany the ownership and management of a rental property.

The intricacies of owning and managing a tenanted property far surpass the expectations of many individuals.

Consequently, an increasing number of landlords are now exploring avenues for selling tenanted rental property.

Selling a Tenanted Rental Property - An Essential Guide to Selling a House With Tenants
Selling a Tenanted Rental Property: An Essential Guide to Selling a House With Tenants

Investors are becoming more cognisant of the obligations associated with this type of investment and are seeking straightforward solutions when managing tenants becomes challenging or unexpected property repairs arise.

The era of simply “setting and forgetting” a rental property has passed; landlords are now required to adopt a more professional approach and carefully consider all aspects before making property investments.

In this guide, we will explore the legal obligations, eviction considerations, and effective strategies for selling a tenanted property in the UK.

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Before putting a tenanted property on the market, it is crucial for landlords to understand their legal obligations.

This includes familiarising themselves with the terms of the tenant’s lease, the rights of the tenants during the sales process, and the landlord’s obligations.

Landlords should consult with legal professionals to ensure full compliance with all laws and regulations.

Landlords must ensure that they are fully compliant with all regulations to protect the rights of their tenants and facilitate a smooth and successful sale.

This includes understanding the legal implications and ensuring full compliance with all regulations. Failure to do so can lead to legal disputes and hinder the sale process.

Step 2: Communicating with the Tenant

Effective communication with the tenant is essential when selling a tenanted property.

Landlords must keep tenants informed about the sale process, including providing them with at least 24 hours’ written notice for viewings and respecting their right to ‘quiet enjoyment’ without unnecessary disturbances.

Read article: Who Should Pay Legal Fees in a Forced House Sale?

Selling A Tenanted (Buy-To-Let) Property

When selling a buy-to-let property, landlords are presented with two options: selling it as a tenanted investment or as a vacant property.

Opting for a vacant sale expands the potential buyer pool to include owner-occupiers, rather than solely investors.

However, the price disparity between an investor and an owner-occupier can vary significantly based on the local market conditions.

To ensure the best possible price, it is advisable to consult with an estate agent who can provide insights into the local market and its impact on the sale price.

Taxes also play a crucial role when selling a tenanted buy-to-let property, as the sale may incur capital gains tax on any profits derived from the transaction.

Seeking professional advice from a financial advisor or accountant is essential to receive guidance on managing tax liabilities arising from the sale of tenanted properties.

It is prudent to ensure that all income tax is up-to-date before finalising any sale to avoid unexpected tax obligations post-completion.

Tenant Rights During The Sale

Tenants have specific rights during the sale of a tenanted property. It is essential for landlords to understand and respect these rights to ensure a fair and legal sales process.

Tenants have the right to consent to each viewing, receive at least 24 hours’ written notice, and live in ‘quiet enjoyment’ without unnecessary disturbances.

Landlords must also communicate with tenants about the change in ownership after the sale has gone through.

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Tenants’ Rights when the Sale Goes Through

After the sale has gone through, the new landlord must contact the tenant no later than two months after the sale and provide their name, address, and contact details.

This ensures that tenants are aware of the change in ownership and can address any concerns or issues with the new landlord.

Eviction Considerations

If there is a possibility of eviction when selling a tenanted property, landlords must navigate the eviction process carefully.

Landlords should be upfront with potential buyers about the tenant’s lease agreement and the eviction process.

Selling the tenanted property to an investor willing to accept the risk of eviction can be a viable option in such cases.

Can I Evict Tenants Before Selling The Tenanted Property?

In the UK, you can typically only evict tenants before selling a property if you have legal grounds for eviction, such as non-payment of rent or breaches of the tenancy agreement.

If the tenants have a fixed-term tenancy, you generally can’t evict them before the lease term ends unless you can prove a legitimate reason for eviction.

However, if the property is vacant or the tenancy has ended, you can sell it without tenants in place.

Read article: How To Get Out of A Tenancy Agreement

Pros and Cons of Selling a Tenanted Property

Selling a tenanted property comes with its own set of advantages and considerations. Landlords must carefully evaluate the pros and cons to make an informed decision.

Pros include the potential for immediate rental income and the steady demand for rental properties, while cons may include competition with other properties and the possibility of eviction.

Use Your Local High-Street Estate Agent

When selling a tenanted rental property, many landlords turn to local high-street estate agents as their primary solution.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no requirement for a specialised estate agent in this scenario. The crucial factor is to engage an estate agent with substantial experience and expertise in handling tenanted properties.

Such agents possess a deeper understanding of potential issues that may arise and are adept at managing them effectively.

Furthermore, landlords should prioritise certain considerations when selecting an estate agent. It is essential to ensure that the chosen agent is regulated, has a positive track record as evidenced by reviews, and offers comprehensive services.

This approach guarantees that landlords receive the best possible advice and support throughout the sales process.

By conducting thorough research, making informed decisions, and collaborating with a highly experienced local high-street estate agent, landlords can successfully and efficiently sell their tenanted property without undue stress.

Special Considerations when Selling a Tenanted Rental Property

Landlords must consider various factors when selling a tenanted rental property, including competition, the potential for a longer sales process, and the need to ensure a successful sale even if there is a risk of eviction.

Exploring the Auction Route for Selling Your Tenanted Property

Another option for selling a tenanted property is through an auction. Landlords must carefully evaluate the benefits and considerations of this approach.

Exploring the auction route requires landlords to highlight the benefits of buying a tenanted property, be upfront about eviction considerations, choose the right professionals, and be prepared to negotiate and be flexible.

Do I Need To Pay The Tenant Compensation For Selling The Property?

In the UK, landlords typically don’t need to pay compensation to tenants for selling a tenanted property. However, tenants may be entitled to statutory rights, such as proper notice periods, during the sale process. Compensation might arise if the landlord breaches these rights, like insufficient notice or improper conduct.

Additionally, if a tenant has a fixed-term tenancy agreement, the new owner must honour its terms until it expires.

Final Thoughts & Key Takeaways

In conclusion, selling a tenanted property requires careful planning, clear communication, and a thorough understanding of legal obligations and tenant rights.

Selling a tenanted property involves a myriad of legal considerations and tenant rights that landlords must navigate.

By understanding and respecting these legal obligations, landlords can ensure a smooth and successful sale while protecting the rights of their tenants.

It is essential for landlords to seek legal advice and communicate effectively with tenants throughout the sales process to facilitate a fair and legal transaction.

Picture of Leticia Dubois, Ph.D.

Leticia Dubois, Ph.D.

Leticia has a first class LLB Degree from University of London, an LLM Degree and a Doctorate in International Commercial Law from Glasgow and Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Leticia teaches Finance Law, Insurance, Land Law, Insolvency Law and Entrepreneurship Law.

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