14. Sale of Rental Property

Frequently Asked Questions

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Many tenants do not realize that they have rights when their landlord is threatening to sell the property, or has it up for sale or has sold the property. Tenants who reside in rent controlled jurisdictions like San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, can often retain their tenancies after a property has been sold because a buyer must have a “just cause for eviction” and sale of a residential rental property is not a “just cause for eviction”. If a buyer wants to evict their new tenants they will usually do an Owner Move-in eviction (see other section) or they will do an Ellis Act Eviction (remove the property from the rental market for five years.

When a property is put up for sale, the listing real estate agent will usually distribute what is known as a Estoppel Certificate and is sometimes referred to by other names. An Estoppel Certificate is used by the landlord to inform a prospective buyer of all rights that a tenant actually has or which the tenant claims to have. Once a tenant is provided an Estoppel Certificate it is incumbent upon them to fill it out and return it to the listing agent as quickly as possible if they want to protect their rights. An Estoppel Certificate is especially important to a tenant who has acquired additional rights during their tenancy which are not included in the rental agreement or lease and may actually be contrary to lease terms (e.g. a tenant gets a dog which is orally approved by the landlord). If a lease states that an Estoppel Certificate must be filled out by the tenant then a tenant should fill it out or they are risking eviction for a lease violation. If the lease is silent with respect to an Estoppel Certificate, then a tenant may choose not to fill one out and in some cases it is in the tenant’s best interests not to do so because by filling it out they may be providing the current or future landlord with grounds to evict them.

If your home is for sale or has been sold contact us or another tenant attorney for a free consultation.