Can I Sell My Tenant-Occupied Rental Property?

If you own a rental property, you may wish to sell it at some point in the future. Although a landlord is allowed to sell a property while it’s still occupied by a tenant, it’s important to be aware of – and abide by – the tenant’s rights under the law throughout the sale process.


As you can probably imagine, a landlord showing a rental to prospective buyers can disrupt a tenant’s life. Remember that the property might be a rental unit, but it’s still the tenant’s home. Your tenant may not like the prospect of having his home sold out from underneath him, but you’re much more likely to receive cooperation if you treat your tenant with respect. You will also stay on the right side of the law, which can save you a lot of grief and money.

Honor the Right of Possession

California tenants purchase a “right of possession” to the premises by paying rent. As such, they have a right of “quiet enjoyment.” This means the landlord can’t show up announced with an interested buyer or attempt to enter the property without the tenant’s permission.

Long-Term vs. Month-to-Month

Whether the new owner must honor the tenant’s lease depends on the terms of the tenant’s rental agreement. In most cases, new owners must honor a long-term tenant’s lease, which means the tenant is permitted to live in the unit until the lease expires. The same rule does not apply to month-to-month tenants, who are entitled to 30 days’ notice if the new owner wants them to leave the property.

Moving and Relocation Expenses

Although not required by state law, a landlord and/or a new owner can sweeten the deal for current tenants by offering to pay for their moving or relocation expenses in exchange for vacating the property before the lease ends. This can ease the burden of transition for the tenant and open up the property for the new owner – a win-win for all parties and a way to avoid disagreements and litigation.

California Eviction and Real Estate Law

Attorney Kirkman J. Hoffman has more than 20 years’ experience representing commercial and residential landlords, owners, and property managers in Silicon Valley and the surrounding regions. Contact the team at Hoffman Law Group today at (408) 241-9620 to discuss your real estate or eviction matter.


This website has been prepared by Hoffman Law Group, APC for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.