Finding the right rental property is no mean feat. Once you've found a place to live, provided the right paperwork, finances and made the move, it should be time to relax and enjoy it.
But what happens if your landlord decides they want to sell? What rights do you have as a tenant?
Can a landlord sell a house with tenants?
Yes. Legally, a landlord is allowed to sell a property that has tenants, under what's known as a section 21 notice or a no-fault eviction.
Your landlord can give you a section 21 notice without a reason. They might want to move back into the property or sell it, but they do not have to tell you the reason.
The landlord just needs to give you 2 months’ notice.
This applies to assured shorthold tenancy agreements (AST), the most common type of rental contract, in England.
When can a landlord evict you if they want to sell?
The landlord cannot evict you within the first 4 months of your tenancy, whether you're on a fixed term contract or a flexible periodic tenancy.
After 4 months, the landlord can give you 2 months' notice at any time.
If you are on a fixed term contract, you have the right to stay for the duration of the fixed term, unless there's a clause in your rental contract that says otherwise. This is usually called a break clause in your contract.
So if you signed up to a 12 month fixed-term tenancy and it includes a 6 month break clause, the landlord can ask you to leave after the first 6 months.
If there is no break clause in the fixed-term contract, the landlord can give notice from the end of month 10, so get their property back after 12 months.
How to check the section 21 notice is valid
There are some reasons why the section 21 notice might not be valid. In these cases, you might be able to challenge it and stay in your home.
The section 21 notice may not be valid if:
you are not on an assured shorthold tenancy (AST)
your landlord did not protect your deposit, they protected it too late or they did not share the protection information with you
the home you live in needs a licence and your landlord does not have one, such as for a shared house, bedsit or hostel
they served the notice using the wrong government form (it should be form 6A on GOV.UK or a letter with the same information)
you get it within the first 4 months of the start of a fixed-term tenancy (unless there is a break clause that says otherwise)
your landlord did not provide a gas safety certificate, energy performance certificate (EPC) or the latest version of the government's 'How to Rent' guide
your landlord has not repaid you any unlawful fees or deposits that they charged you
When else can a landlord make you leave your home?
A landlord can use a section 8 notice to evict you if, for example, you have broken the terms of your tenancy.
You can get a section 8 notice at any time, depending on why your landlord wants you to leave.
Unlike a section 21 notice, a landlord has to have a reason for giving you a section 8 notice.
Those reasons can be that you have:
not paid your rent
damaged the property
been a nuisance to your neighbours.
You'll normally have between 14 days and two months to leave the property if you get a section 8 notice.
You might be able to challenge your eviction if you have a good reason or if the section 8 notice is not valid.
You should always try to talk to your landlord if you're comfortable. They might let you stay if you can show you can repay the rent or repair damage.
If you do not leave the property by the date given in the notice, the landlord will need to go to court to evict you. But keep in mind that you might have to pay your landlord's court costs and this can be very expensive.
Plans to abolish Section 21
The government recently confirmed plans to abolish section 21 notices in the planned Renters' Reform Bill.
Instead, Section 8 grounds will be strengthened to allow landlords to evict tenants from their properties.
Once Section 21 is abolished, landlords will need to provide their tenants with a reason for evicting them from their properties.
Those reasons can include:
wanting to sell the property
because the tenancy agreement has been breached
anti social behaviour by the tenant
a close family member of the landlord's is moving into the property
However tenants can end their tenancy at any time, as long as they provide two months' notice to the landlord.
Being a tenant 'in situ'
Some rental homes are put up for sale with the tenant 'in situ'.
This means that you can stay in the property and the next owner will become your landlord.
It gives you the security of knowing you can stay and continue to rent, even when the property is sold.