Landlord Selling
July 12, 2019 12:08 PM   Subscribe

My landlords have informed me that they are intending to sell the property. They live out of state so this has all been done over email/phone. I live in a cottage/granny flat/back unit, they are selling both the empty front unit and this one. They've told me they want to try to get the new owners to continue my lease. I've never dealt with any of this before and I have a ton of questions.

I live in Alameda, CA. I've lived in this unit for a little over 4 years. I was originally on a year lease but it went month to month after that, I believe. I've already looked over my city's rent stabilization FAQ and rental board website and it appears they were supposed to offer me a year long lease after the first one was up but they never did. That's sort of the least of my worries right now.

To cut to the chase:
-My landlord is emailing me asking me to send a copy of my original lease from 4 years ago to the realtor because she can't find her copy. I don't even know if I still have it because my ex and I moved in here together and I think he's the one who kept it but he might not have it anymore. I know it's important for me to find a copy for myself in terms of knowing what my contract says, but should I even be doing this work for her? Does it help my situation to do this?

-The realtor is asking me for good times to show. I've already taken off of work once to deal with them and I have a very unfriendly/skittish dog so it's basically impossible for them to come in when I'm not here without risking my dog potentially biting someone or having it be traumatic for her (she's a rescue that I literally found on the street and was clearly abused). I work full time and I cannot afford to keep taking time off but I also don't want to spend my weekends dealing with people coming in and out of my house. My ex usually takes the dog one day a week to work with him so I could offer that day, assuming he's able to take her (he isn't always). What is the most reasonable answer I can give her to not make this be a giant burden on me? Agree to a couple of dates to have open houses?

-She has already informed me that they're coming to do a termite inspection and access my backyard on Tuesday. She said they're doing a property inspection the same day and need to come into my house. Again, I will be at work and my dog will be here alone. Is there anything I can do about this? Assume that dog walker/dog sitter is not an option. She is very skittish and unpredictable around strangers.

-Any other knowledge or tips or referrals would be great. I also cannot afford a lawyer - if anyone has any leads on that front in terms of legal aid or something that would be great. I'm going to contact the housing authority here and make an appointment with them too.

My rent has been raised the maximum amount every year with literally no improvements and it being the Bay Area, was already insanely expensive. I've never asked them for anything and they've always been completely hands off landlords. Since the front tenants moved out earlier this year it's been nothing but headaches - they were trying to rent the place out so they had construction work going on all the time, were blocking my car in the driveway, turning off my water with no notice, had a smoke alarm/CO2 detector going off for literally a week that was so loud I couldn't sleep without the tv on, there was a gas leak in the front unit, etc etc. I am not feeling particularly generous toward them at this point and I know I have some decent protections as a tenant here but I just want to feel more confident in knowing what they are and asserting them. Thanks for any and all help!
posted by primalux to Law & Government (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Also if it's relevant: I believe I still qualify as low income, though I know different services have different thresholds.
posted by primalux at 12:19 PM on July 12, 2019

I would start by calling the Alameda County Tenant's Rights Line for some free legal advice.
posted by pinochiette at 12:20 PM on July 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

Alameda very very recently passed a "Just Cause for Eviction" act.

In Oakland, selling a property isn't considered an acceptable reason to evict someone. Also, (again, at least in Oakland), "eviction" includes just not renewing a lease. So a month-to-month tenant can't be told to leave unless the situation meets one of the limited "just causes" for eviction. Because Alameda's ordinance is so new, I'm having trouble finding information about/interpreting it, but if this applies, it seems like many potential new owners would not be able to kick you out.

Causa Justa might be a good resource/have experience with this. A few years back I wasn't able to get information from them on the phone and had to stop by - YMMV.
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:32 PM on July 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

It isn't important for you to send a copy to the realtor. If the landlord wants the realtor to have a copy, that's the landlord's lookout.

It is very important for you to have a copy of your lease, however. If you have a rent-stabilized lease, it should come on a form that includes statutory terms and conditions that detail out most of your important rights and protections. Just carefully reading your lease can be a valuable way of understanding where you stand in this situation. For example, under many rent regulation schemes the tenant has a right to renew the lease and that right does not go away if the ownership of the building changes (except for certain extraordinary circumstances such as owner occupation of the unit). The lease may be the only proof you have that you are entitled to the various rights and protections of a stabilized lease, so I would make a real effort to find it.
posted by slkinsey at 12:49 PM on July 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

As a matter of legality, in most states, a sale of real estate is subject to all "encumbrances". A lease to a tenant is such an encumbrance.

As a matter of practicality, typically a rental home is sold by the landlord to another person who also wants to rent the home out. Not always, of course, but more often than not.
posted by megatherium at 5:05 PM on July 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

Your lease almost certainly requires you to give the landlord access provided they give you adequate notice.

Your dog is your responsibility.
posted by mpbx at 3:36 AM on July 13, 2019

This sounds really stressful. I imagine you would have moved already if that was an option?

For the disruptions during the selling process: Can your dog handle being in a crate or going to a doggy day care? If you need to spend money to take the dog somewhere the landlord should pay for it.

I don’t think it hurts to send your landlord the lease if you can find it.

Sometimes there are different laws and regulations for single family homes vs. buildings. Make sure you mention the exact situation to the tenants rights line.

What outcome do you want overall? In the short term, you want less stress with the selling/showing, but in the long term do you want to keep renting your apartment? If you do, after talking to someone at the tenants rights line, I would talk to your landlord in a nice way about whether you will be able to continue renting after the property is sold, and perhaps sign a new long term lease to ensure you can.
posted by rainydayfilms at 4:51 AM on July 13, 2019

Can your pooch stay with your ex for a while/periodically?
posted by kate4914 at 12:36 PM on July 13, 2019

Crazy idea, you don't have any interest in buying it, do you? Stay in your unit and rent out the front? With FHA, it's only 3.5 percent down. You could even ask if they'd be willing to do owner financing to avoid or delay the down payment. I know a couple who ended up buying the place they were renting.
posted by slidell at 5:52 PM on July 13, 2019

Just wanted to update and answer a couple of questions.

-First, I'm going to call the Tenant Right's Line on Monday. So far my only action has been to email the realtor and let her know I'll be able to talk about scheduling on Monday (after I call the hotline). My ex will be looking for the lease when he gets back to town tonight.

-Ex can't take the dog home - his roommate is the primary leaseholder and she doesn't like animals of any type.

-Someone offline told me that they can use "lack of access" as a reason to evict and if my dog keeps them from accessing the place, they can use that against me. I'm not sure if that's actually true (my dog is on the lease, they've known about her the entire time) but I'm just trying to cover my bases right now. If it is true, I'm going to try to get a baby gate so maybe I could just keep her in my bedroom and they can view that from the doorway (my house is super tiny so the bedroom is completely visible from the door).

-Unfortunately my dog is not good with other dogs unless they're small, and the only small dog daycare here has a long waiting list and you have to go through a "trial" period with them before they'll take them.

-Buying is not an option for a ton of reasons, unfortunately.

-I would probably move if I could at this point, but I can't afford to. Ultimately I don't know how long I want to be in this place, but my work contract goes until October so I would like to stay until then at least.

I will post a followup if anything significant happens. Thanks everyone!
posted by primalux at 11:13 AM on July 14, 2019

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