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Landlord selling apartment - legal protections?

Question

Dear all,

Our landlord has just told me that he wants to sell our apartment. He has told us this before but previously said in September 2017, not now. We have our contract with him until August 2017.

The email he has sent basically says:
- the buyer will likely want the apartment empty when they move in
- he has asked us to keep the apartment in "perfect order and super clean for visits", whilst also saying that "in the last months I've seen the apartment in a very poor condition"... we clearly have different standards. I fully expect him to try and rip us off, but that's a different matter

What legal protections do we have about being kicked out when a new buyer takes over? Does the new buyer have to keep us until the original contract runs out, or is that then null and void? Do I have a legal requirement to keep the place in a 'perfect condition' for viewings? Does he have to give advance notice of viewings?

I must admit I'm also pretty annoyed about him saying that we don't keep the apartment in a great condition, especially as there have been numerous problems with the flat including a dishwasher that doesn't work for 6 months, wiring in the lights which kept tripping and the electrician saying it was a death trap, and last and not least the poor toilet plumbing which has resulted in our bathroom being covered in sewerage from the block TWICE. Rant over!

Answer
RPPKN Jan 27, 2017 15:14

First of all, what kind of rental contract do you have? For nine years, or for three years or less? How long have you been in the apartment?

In any case, the contract is binding to the new owner as well. The new owner can only give you notice if they want to move to the apartment themselves, or want to move a relative in (the law has a clear list on who counts as a relative). They cannot give you notice if they just want to renovate the place and then rent it again.

As for viewings, take a look at your contract. All the details should be stated there (how many times a week, on which days and times). He does have to give you advance notice of viewings.

Answer
Phil Cole Jan 27, 2017 15:24

We have been there 2 and a bit years - the 3rd year is reached in August 2017. We originally had a 2 year contract and then extended it for another year. The landlord didn't ask for a new 9 year contract as he knew he wanted to sell it when we extended for another year back in August 2016.

Answer
RPPKN Jan 27, 2017 15:44

In this case, as it's a short-term contract, even the new owner cannot give you notice to leave before the end of contract. A short-term contract can't be broken by either party.

Even he has told you that he wants to sell the apartment, the landlord still must send you an official notice (by registered letter) that he does not wish to continue the rental contract. And this a minimum of three months before the contract expires.

If he should fail to do this (and if you do not send him a notice to leave), after August 2017 you will in fact be in a fourth year of a nine-year contract. The new owner, if he wants to move in, has to give you a notice of a minimum of six months.

This could put you in a stronger negotiation position, if the landlord turns out to be difficult. You could agree to leave early, but only if the landlord gives you your full deposit back.

Answer
Mikek1300gt Jan 27, 2017 16:19

If the landlord is going to be an arse, make sure you make all potential buyers aware of the problems. ;-)

Answer
Phil Cole Jan 27, 2017 16:29

Thanks all. Very clear and helpful.

I've just spoken to my partner and we've decided that we want to get out sooner rather than later so will check how much notice we have to give. The landlord I believe is short of money (and has just had a baby) so I think he will not want it to be empty for too long without rent so he may not be happy for us to leave early. What is the soonest that we can get out?

But I agree that we will likely have a good negotiating position because he seems to not like us living there (saying it is in poor condition, when I can only think that he means some clothes on the floor... we aren't animals!). I also assume it will be easier for him to sell if we aren't living there.

It's a shame - we were actually thinking about buying it, but 1) he wants a lot more than we think it is worth, 2) there are clearly sewage pipe problems, 3) there is electrical wiring problems, 4) the block is currently on 1 heating system and the other landlords want to move over to an individual system, so that will cost a lot.

Answer
kasseistamper Jan 27, 2017 16:53

Check your contract carefully.
It is unlikely to be in your best interests to move out before the sale. A standard contract should state that the (new) owner has to give you notice to get you out or refund the rent in lieu of notice.
Also, the current landlord cannot 'rip you off' if you are still in the place when the sale goes through and there is no way for him to get you out if you are happy to stay until August.

Answer
RPPKN Jan 27, 2017 16:59

Unless there is a specific clause in the contract about breaking it early, you cannot legally end the contract before it expires. Or of course you can move out tomorrow if you want, but you are liable for the rent until August.

Fixed-term contracts are often not in the best interest of the tenant.

Answer
casperisk Jan 27, 2017 17:11

Haha, it is unbelievable what bizarre standards landlords can have when they're visiting for such purposes. My landlord wanted to take pics of the house because she wants to sell it. She didn't have problems with cleanliness but when she came she left in 5 minutes. She later texted that she was mad that our curtains were closed and that it was our responsibility to draw them open when we knew she was coming to take pics . hahahhahah

We politely told her that it is not in the contract that we need to keep the curtains open for her highness. Or that the apartment needs to be in any certain way for her arrival. That shut her up.

By the way, our landlord told us that even the new owner can't throw us out before giving a three months notice. I don't know if it applies when he wants to move in himself or not. We have a short term lease which expired last year. Now we are on an extended contract.

I think the only time you need to keep your apartment squeaky clean is ideally when you're returning it. In most contracts it says the apartment should be returned in the same condition as it was received.

Keep a track of all communication. Discuss in writing about the release of your deposit. Our landlord never showed up for the deposit blocking lol, so she has nothing from us. But I love this house and keep it in a great condition.

Answer
casperisk Jan 27, 2017 17:12

Haha, it is unbelievable what bizarre standards landlords can have when they're visiting for such purposes. My landlord wanted to take pics of the house because she wants to sell it. She didn't have problems with cleanliness but when she came she left in 5 minutes. She later texted that she was mad that our curtains were closed and that it was our responsibility to draw them open when we knew she was coming to take pics . hahahhahah

We politely told her that it is not in the contract that we need to keep the curtains open for her highness. Or that the apartment needs to be in any certain way for her arrival. That shut her up.

By the way, our landlord told us that even the new owner can't throw us out before giving a three months notice. I don't know if it applies when he wants to move in himself or not. We have a short term lease which expired last year. Now we are on an extended contract.

I think the only time you need to keep your apartment squeaky clean is ideally when you're returning it. In most contracts it says the apartment should be returned in the same condition as it was received.

Keep a track of all communication. Discuss in writing about the release of your deposit. Our landlord never showed up for the deposit blocking lol, so she has nothing from us. But I love this house and keep it in a great condition.

Answer
becasse Jan 28, 2017 11:05

Remember that you, or the landlord, still have to give 3* full calendar months notice to determine the contract at the end of the three (= two + one) year contract in August. If that notice isn't given (by registered letter or by hand with a signature of reception) or is given late, the lease automatically roles over into a nine year one, the nine years dating from the original start date.

A purchaser of the premises would have to give you six full calendar months notice (once the purchase is complete) and then only in very specific circumstances. Most purchasers would, in practice, be buying as an investment and would actually prefer to have sitting tenants in place as it gives them an income from day one.

* 3 full calendar months is the standard notice period and will apply unless your contract specifically states a shorter period. The lease certainly won't come to an automatic end at the end of three years and, as it has been extended once (and to the full extent of 3 years), a further fixed period extension isn't lawful.

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