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What are my rights in Washington state regarding the sale of the property I rent by my landlord?
October 14, 2011 9:31 PM   Subscribe

As a tenant, what are my rights regarding my landlord's ability to sell the property to a new owner before the end of the lease?

I am not familiar with Washington state law, particularly outside of Seattle, regarding tenant rights in a lease agreement. I'd like to get into a lease for 12 months, but I understand that the landlord may have a right to sell the property I am in as long as 60 days notice is given. Am I correct? If not, can my landlord put a clause in it that allows them to terminate the lease early upon selling the property given a certain window of notice?
posted by NBJack to Law & Government (10 answers total)
 
Checkout: http://www.lawhelp.org/documents/1593216300EN.pdf?stateabbrev=/WA/

Specifically the section on sale of property:
The sale of the property does not automatically end a lease or a month-to-month rental
agreement.
When a landlord sells a rental unit, s/he must notify you of the new owner’s name and address.
S/he can either send you this notice by personally delivering the notice, or by mailing you the
notice plus posting it on the property.
The landlord must transfer all deposits to the new owner. The new owner must put them in a
trust at a bank or in an escrow account. The new owner must notify you of the name and address
of the new bank or escrow company.
 Seattle Residents: If an owner of a single-family dwelling unit elects to
sell the place, the current tenant must get at least 60 days prior written
notice. SMC 22.206.160(C)(1)(f). You can find this cite online at
http://clerk.ci.seattle.wa.us/~scripts/nphbrs.exe?d=CODE&s1=22.206.160.snum.&Sect5=CODE1&Sect6=HITOFF
&l=20&p=1&u=/~public/code1.htm&r=1&f=G.


My understanding is that the 60 days is after a lease is up but I can't find a good cite for that (though that is what my mother-in-law was told when she bought a multi-family and wanted to occupy one of the units: She waited for the lease to expire, then gave 60 days notice, then moved in.)

So the sale can happen (your landlord can change) but they can't just kick you out.

Good luck.
posted by lucasks at 9:54 PM on October 14, 2011


Leases remain valid through sales of properties. You may need to be notified, but even if the property sells a month into your lease, it's still valid.
posted by santaliqueur at 10:01 PM on October 14, 2011


Of course the owner has the right to sell their property at any time. As a tenant you have no say in whether the owner sells the property. However, your lease remains valid with the new owner.

I think every apartment I've lived in has been sold while I've had a lease. Sometimes in larger properties there is a new management company and they keep the staff, sometimes they bring in their own new staff. Sometimes the new owner keeps it the same. In all cases, my lease remained valid, including the provision to go month to month after the lease term.
posted by birdherder at 10:33 PM on October 14, 2011


1. No, your understanding is not correct. Your landlord can sell the property if they want to without any advance notice to you. The property is subject to the lease, however, so you get to stay at least until the end of the least term.

Washington law does require the landlord to notify you of the sale and give you the name and address of the new owner.

So, no, the landlord doesn't need to give you sixty days notice if they want to sell. On the other hand, you can't be evicted from the property before the end of your lease term, either (the 60 day rule is particular to Seattle and basically says that if you buy a single family home that's being rented, you can evict the tenants if you give them 60 days notice upon the expiration of their lease term).

2. Yes, your landlord can put a clause in the lease saying that, if you agree to it.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:40 PM on October 14, 2011


Every jurisdiction has an easy-to-read printout that explains tenants' rights. Here is one for Washington State. It's not long, I highly recommend you read through it before you sign a lease.

The sale of the property does not automatically end a lease or a month-to-month rental agreement.

When a landlord sells a rental unit, s/he must notify you of the new owner’s name and address. S/he can either send you this notice by personally delivering the notice, or by mailing you the notice plus posting it on the property.

The landlord must transfer all deposits to the new owner. The new owner must put them in a trust at a bank or in an escrow account. The new owner must notify you of the name and address of the new bank or escrow company.


Can he write a clause into your lease? Probably. From the same link:

Usually a landlord cannot ask you to move without a reason if you have a lease. Check your rental agreement for any exceptions.

It seems that the exception proves the rule here. I wouldn't sign any lease that had a clause like that inserted into it.
posted by auto-correct at 10:50 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm in Georgia, but I actually was given a 60-day notice to vacate and had to move because the owner of the building I lived in decided to put it up for sale and wanted all the tenants out. It wasn't owner-occupied, either, and was a six-unit building. It was completely illegal--I was on a lease that didn't have an out clause for sale of the building and my lease wasn't up. I even talked to a lawyer about it, but was advised that even though I was in the right, it probably wasn't worth trying to fight it.

My current lease has a clause that if the building is sold, leases may be terminated with 60 days notice.

All that said, usually if an apartment building is sold, nothing changes for the tenants. You may not even know about it--the same management company could keep running it, etc. Generally, a fully-rented building is more attractive to buyers, for obvious reasons.
posted by Violet Hour at 11:12 PM on October 14, 2011


You might also want to look into your rights in the case that the property is repossessed by a bank. In the UK I believe you have less rights in a repossession than you do in the case of a sale, particularly if the landlord's mortgage agreement doesn't allow letting of the building.
posted by emilyw at 12:31 AM on October 15, 2011


Pay attention to Violet's response. A client's first question is always "Is it legal for them to do that?" but a lawyer's attention has to focus on what the client can do about it and how much it will cost to enforce the client's rights.
posted by yclipse at 3:24 AM on October 15, 2011


All that said, usually if an apartment building is sold, nothing changes for the tenants. You may not even know about it--the same management company could keep running it, etc. Generally, a fully-rented building is more attractive to buyers, for obvious reasons.

The last place I lived was sold while I was living there. It wasn't seamless--our rent didn't get paid on time one month (we were told direct debit had been restarted, but it hadn't--we had to drop checks off for a few months at the time of the sale) and somehow the old owner's maintenance phone number kept working, but wasn't checked. The new owner/management didn't have a separate phone number for maintenance. That said, the responsiveness of management and maintenance greatly improved. I had a year long saga involving my bredroom window not closing (I had it held mostly closed for month using string tied to a chair--they'd come to repair it and made it worse). The building sold, a high up maintenance guy came and looked at the window, got annoyed that the old owner's had left it in that state, was open about the fact the building was settling, so it probably couldn't be totally fixed and came back a few days later to at least restore things to how they were when we moved in, so I didn't need my string any more.

That's a very long-winded way of saying "Read your lease and having the building sell might be a good thing." (On the other hand, my current landlord is awesome and if they sold, that'd almost certainly be bad for me.)
posted by hoyland at 9:12 AM on October 15, 2011


You might also want to look into your rights in the case that the property is repossessed by a bank.

As of 2009, there is a federal law guaranteeing tenants certain rights in foreclosures. Before this, tenants might find out the building had been sold at auction when the new owner showed up to claim it. Now they must be notified at every step, along with the owners of record. Today, leases survive foreclosures in all states (except where the new owner wants to move in), and month-to-month tenancies require a full 90 days' notice of termination from the new owner.
posted by dhartung at 12:37 PM on October 15, 2011


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