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The property I'm renting changed ownership. Now what?

Eviction & Other Landlord Issues

What to expect when the home you rent changes ownership.

The new owner wants to end my lease. Do I have to move?

In most cases, the new owner must honor your lease. Also, you never have to move unless a court holds a hearing and orders your eviction. Learn more about eviction

Be aware, though, that an eviction case on your tenant record can make it hard to find housing in the future. Any eviction filed against you can hurt your record, even if you win your case.

What if the landlord sells or gifts the property?

If the landlord sells or gives away the property, the new owner must honor your lease.

What if creditors foreclose on the property?

If you are current on rent, the new owner must give you at lease 30 days written notice to vacate. If you are not current, the new owner can sue to evict you.

With a foreclosed property, you are current on rent if:

  • when you get notice of the foreclosure sale, you have already paid the old landlord rent for the month, or
  • you pay rent to the new owner within five days after they send you a written request.

What if the landlord dies?

Anyone who inherits the property also inherits the landlord’s obligations. This means they must honor any ongoing leases. However, it can take a while for the heirs to take formal ownership, and it can be hard figuring out who to pay in the meantime.

Until the heirs take ownership, you will owe rent to the deceased landlord’s estate. (The estate is all of a deceased person’s property that has yet to be distributed to heirs.) Contact the estate’s representative or probate attorney, if possible, and ask how they want to receive rent. They may want you to continue paying the property management company, if any, or to continue to deposit rent into an account owned by the estate. Or the representative may want to receive payments directly. Always keep a record of your payments.

If you cannot determine where to pay rent after your landlord dies, you may consider using an escrow account. An escrow account will hold the money for the new landlord until they take possession of the property. Talk to your bank if you need to open an escrow account.

What if the city condemns the property?

A city can condemn, or seize, property for the public good. For example, if the city needs to build a road, the city can force the landowner to sell the property. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to stay in your home for 90 days (or more) after getting notice.

You may also be able to get help moving. Read Help for Displaced Tenants.

Do I have the right to get my deposit back?

Yes. Even if you paid your deposit to the old owner, the new owner must refund your deposit when you move out (or tell you why they are not doing so). The exception to this is foreclosure. If the property is foreclosed, you will need to get your security deposit refund from the old owner unless the new owner gives you written notice that they will pay. Read Security Deposits.

What if I do not have a written lease?

An oral lease is as binding as a written lease, meaning that the new owner cannot treat it any differently. However, if the new owner is unaware of an oral lease or refuses to acknowledge it, it can be difficult to prove an oral lease’s existence in court.

Also, many unwritten leases agreements do not include a lease term (e.g., one year). If the lease has no set end date, it is usually a month-to-month lease. In that case, the new owner could cancel the lease with 30 days’ notice. 

The new owner does not want to renew my lease.

While the new owner usually has to honor an existing lease, they do not have to renew your lease. One exception to this is if they refuse to renew as retaliation.

I received notice that I need to pay a new owner and I’m not sure why.

Be wary of scams. Any notice from a new owner should include the new owner’s name and address. Verify that your original landlord no longer owns the property. If you think you are facing a scam, contact an attorney or tenant association.

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