I have a tenant in an apartment in the home I want to sell. What are the responsibilities of my real estate agent when it involves the sale of a property that has a rental unit?
Selling a property with a rental unit is not a straightforward real estate transaction because it affects multiple parties – the seller, the buyer and one or more tenants.
As a result of that added complexity, the sale presents certain legal obligations that both you and your agent must follow when putting your rental property on the market. Remember, they will help you, but you still have legal rights and obligations as the seller.
As always, good communication between all parties will go a long way towards your sale unfolding as it should.
The first issue you must consider is your tenant’s legal rights during the sale process. You and your agent have a responsibility to understand those rights and to respect them during various stages of the transaction.
First and foremost, you cannot evict your tenant to sell your home if they have a fixed-term lease that hasn’t expired. If you want your tenant out of your property before you sell, you must negotiate with them to find a way to do that or wait until their lease has expired.
Alternatively, provided the unit meets all legal requirements (various codes and bylaws), you have an opportunity to market your home as an investment opportunity and have any buyer agree to assume the tenancy and the rental income that comes with it.
There are also a number of rules you must follow during the sale process itself.
Your tenant will obviously be affected by any showings of your home, and they are entitled to at least 24 hours’ notice for entry, although they may consent to a shorter notice period.
The onus is on you and your agent to work with your tenant regarding showings. You could even suggest developing a showings schedule that provides all parties with a level of certainty about timing.
Your tenant also has the right to be present during showings and if they ask to attend, your agent is expected to accommodate that request, so that you fulfill your legal obligations.
I would reiterate my advice that you and your agent work with your tenant in advance on the scheduling of showings to ensure there are no hard feelings. Remember, the tenant is likely worried about where they might live if they have to move out. Working with them to manage their fears, should help for a smoother transaction.
It’s also important to know that if your agent or prospective buyers want to take pictures or video of a property while it is occupied by your tenant, you require the tenant’s permission to do so.
These are the basic rules you and your agent should follow during a sale of a rental property.
If you have any further questions, I recommend you visit the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) website for more information. You could also consult a lawyer with specific experience in landlord-tenant matters.
Being aware of and respecting your legal obligations in the sale of your rental property will ensure a smoother sales process.
If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email email@example.com.
This column is for general information purposes only and is not meant as legal or professional advice on real estate transactions.Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.