There are a handful of reasons why you might consider selling a tenant occupied home. When the housing market was a bit sluggish, there were a high number of people who decided to become landlords rather than deal with the headache. In doing so, they probably found that it wasn’t as easy as getting someone to sign a lease and handing over the keys. This also begs the question: how do you sell a home that has someone living in it? If you take a look at the forums over at Zillow, this isn’t just a question, it’s the common question.

Most real estate agents will tell you that it’s better to wait until the tenant’s current lease expires. This way, you can stage the home, and showing it without people living there is always better. However, not everyone can afford that loss of income while waiting on the sale and local regulations can be problematic with what is now considered “investment property”. Typically, having a tenant in the home will lower its value as long as they’re there.

Before selling a tenant occupied house, you should look into your local landlord-tenant law. The rules as to what you can and cannot do are going to vary. Check into the laws and see what your responsibilities are and what the rights of your tenants may be.

Be very open with your tenants, to the point of first seeing if they might want to buy the home. If not, understand that it might be a bit more complicated showing the home. If you’re trying to sell during a lease term, you might face some resistance to tenants that don’t want to move. They’ll know how to put off any prospective buyers, and likely, they’ll succeed.

The best thing that you can do if you have to sell a property with the tenant still living in it is to get their cooperation. It works best, of course, if the tenant is already ready to move- say, towards the tail end of the lease. Protocol needs to be in place for how and when the home is going to be shown, but also, rules regarding right to entry have to be adhered to.

If you want to avoid a lot of the hassles that you may encounter, you might consider giving the tenants an incentive. Offer something like gift cards, rental rebates, or even, a free hotel stay during open house times. Perks that make life easier for the tenant can certainly help. Bear in mind, to you, the house is a commodity. It’s something you are selling. To your tenants, this has been their home, so respect that accordingly.

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Kurt Kroeck has written articles in real estate, law, and art related niches for a number of high profile publications. He is an avid WW2 re-enactor, artist in graphite, charcoal, and digital media. He volunteers in animal rescue and enjoys spending time with his children.

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