By Julia Miller, Legal Intern
Renting can be a great alternative to buying your home, especially for those who move a lot, students, people who cannot afford or cannot get loans to buy a home, or for seniors who may not be sure how long they will be able to live independently. While renting a property can offer a degree of flexibility, there are always risks associated with living on a property that is owned and/or maintained by someone else. An example of such a risk is the landlord selling the property. Landlords have the legal right to sell their property, even while it is occupied. For leases that are not fixed-term, there is little that a renter can do if their landlord decides to sell the property and evict them with 30 days notice. Things become much more complicated when a tenant has a fixed-term lease with their landlord. The following is information about the rights of both you and your landlord in this situation.
First, you should understand that your landlord not only has the right to sell the property during the course of your lease, but they also have the right to access your property in order to show it to potential buyers. That being said, renters do have the right to “quiet enjoyment of the property” which means that your landlord must give “reasonable notice” that they will need to access the property. While Michigan has no definitive statute about how much notice is required, it is generally assumed that the landlord’s “reasonable notice” is at least 24 hours, and that this type of non-emergency access request is allowed only during “normal business hours” (so 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday), unless you tell your landlord that it is otherwise okay. If you feel that your landlord is abusing their right to access their property and infringing on your rights, it may be best to first speak with your landlord. If the problem persists, you should speak with legal counsel about the issue and get advice on how to proceed.
As far as your lease is concerned, unless your lease contains an early-termination clause that allows your landlord to break the lease upon the sale of the property, you will be allowed to live out the remaining period of your lease at the rent that you agreed to in your lease, so long as you are in good standing. Good standing simply means that you are paying your rent and have not violated any other terms of the lease. You will still be entitled to your security deposit. It will either be transferred from your old landlord to your new landlord, or it will be given back to you upon the sale of the property. In the event that the property is sold, the new landlord cannot make changes, outside of those legally necessary, to the existing lease without your written consent.
If the property is sold to an investor, you may be able to negotiate a new lease with them at the end of your current lease. If the property is not sold to an investor, the buyers must either wait to buy or move in until your existing lease is up, or they or the landlord selling the property, may offer to pay you to move out. While this may be a prospect that you are okay with, you are under no legal obligation to accept any amount of monetary compensation offered. So long as you do not violate the terms of your lease, you cannot be forced to move until your lease is up and if your current or future landlord attempts to force you out, you may be able to take legal action. If it comes to this, you should seek legal counsel.
The following resources were used in this blog:
1) Tenant Rights and Responsibilities | Michigan Legal Help, Michigan Legal Help, 2017,
2) Landlord’s Right of Entry versus Tenant’s Right of Privacy. Nolo, 2017
3) Michigan Landlord Tenant Relationships Act. 1972. Michigan Legislature
Sale of an Occupied Rental Property
By Julia Miller, Legal Intern