House tenants’ rights when your landlord is selling

It’s the news no happy tenant wants to hear: the landlord is selling. 

As with most change, though, it’s a lot less frightening when you know what to expect.

Here are five rules to remember when your landlord decides to sell.

1. The landlord is allowed to sell at any time

In all states and territories, landlords are legally allowed to sell their property whenever they like. But fear not: the law protects tenants from being turfed out on a whim.

It’s the news no tenant wants to hear: the landlord is selling. 

2. Your lease is still valid

Your current lease (which is also known as a tenancy agreement) remains valid when your landlord puts their property on the market. And it remains so after the sale, which means you don’t have to move out of the property if it changes hands.

“A landlord cannot terminate a fixed-term agreement for the sale of the property,”

And so if the property is sold to an investor who a tenanted property, it’s possible you will experience very few changes.

It can also lead to a termination of the lease, if mutual consent is reached.

“If you are on a fixed-term agreement, but you want to move out because the property is being sold, you may be able to end the tenancy agreement early by a mutual consent with the landlord,”

If the new owner wants you to move out, they must comply with the terms of the existing lease.

3. Landlords must give tenants notice before an inspection … and you can be there

The landlord must give the tenants 14 days’ notice before the first viewing.

Meanwhile,  tenants “are obliged to make all reasonable efforts to agree on a suitable time and day for the showing” and must also keep the property in a “reasonable state of cleanliness”.

“If an agreement isn’t reached to show the property, the landlord is only able to show the property a maximum of two times per week, and must give the tenant at least 48 hours’ notice each time.”

Renters also have the right to be at the property when it’s opened for inspection.

Get ready: How to prepare for a rental inspection.

property inspection

The landlord must give the tenants 14 days’ notice before the first viewing. Picture: Getty


4. Renters have a say when it comes to photography and signage

The outside of a rental property can be photographed without permission. But if the landlord wishes to take photos inside the property, they must obtain permission from their tenant.

The tenant must also give their consent to signage and on-site auctions.

5. Renters can get compensation

The landlords sometimes offer their tenant compensation to encourage them to move out of the property as soon as possible.

“In some states, a tenant may give notice, even if they are on a lease, once the property is listed for sale,”

“Many property owners offer tenants a compensation for the inconvenience, and this avoids the complaints.”

6. Can you deny a home inspection during Covid-19?

No, in general terms you cannot. However, due to Covid-19 most states have introduced health guidelines still to be met if an agent or landlord request to bring people through you home during this time.

For specific guidance, check you the current public health order and guidelines in your state.

7. Can repairs and maintenance be carried out during Covid-19?

Yes, repairs and maintenance can be carries out during the pandemic. The landlord, agent or authorised person can still carry out repairs during this time, they will, however, need to ensure they follow the local health guidelines in your area.

Tenants rights in different states

It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that the sale of a property might foreshadow changes for the tenant, but it often doesn’t play out that way.

And that’s because there’s a healthy amount of legislation specifically designed to protect the rights of the tenant in this situation – laws that differ slightly from state to state.

The complete guide for first time renters
  • Landlords must provide tenants a minimum of 24 hours’ notice before showing a prospective buyer around the property. Tenants must grant these buyers “reasonable access to the premise” but can refuse access if they weren’t previously informed of the landlord’s intention to sell.
  • Neither the new or old landlord can evict the tenant if a fixed agreement is in place, unless the tenant violates the terms of the lease, or the two parties reach an agreement by mutual consent.
  • If the agreement is periodic, the state’s Residential Tenancies Act states that a landlord can evict you on eight weeks’ notice, if they “genuinely intend to sell the premises”.

New South Wales

  • Landlords must provide tenants two weeks’ written notice before the first inspection, and a minimum of 48 hours’ notice for subsequent inspections, which cannot amount to more than two a week.
  • Neither the new or old landlord can evict the tenant if a fixed agreement is in place, unless the tenant violates the terms of the lease, or the two parties reach an agreement by mutual consent.
  • Landlords must also give you 30 days’ notice if they wish to terminate the lease at the end of the tenancy agreement.
  • If the agreement is periodic, a landlord can evict you, as long as they give you 90 days’ notice, or 14 days’ notice if you breach your tenancy agreement.

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