Landlord Wants to Sell My Apt; What Are My Rights?

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Topic: Landlord Wants to Sell My Apt; What Are My Rights?

Real Estate June 1, 2012 at 10:19 am

Landlord Wants to Sell My Apt; What Are My Rights?

Hello! I live in a condo that I rent in Logan Circle. The condo is owned by an individual who has been renting it to me for about a year, and my lease is good through May 2014. This week my landlord told me he wants to try selling the condo this summer. I’m disappointed by this news, as I would prefer not to deal with any of this; I am happy with my living situation and would rather finish out the lease without this interruption. My landlord lives in Texas now, he moved out of DC a few months ago, so I will presumably have to do do all the showings myself, keep the apartment in showing-ready condition, and then possibly deal with a new landlord if he sells. What, if anything, can I do? 
After reading some other forums on here, I got the idea to check and see if my landlord ever got the appropriate licenses and certificates for leasing my unit and I can’t find anything that says he did, so now I think I’m also living in an “illegal” apartment and I don’t know how that might factor in. I also found some info about right of first refusal but I’m not sure how that does anything other than slightly delay any possible sale. Our lease doesn’t say anything about who is responsible for what if he decides to try and sell the unit, but here are some seemingly applicable provisions that are in my current lease:
“Landlord warrants that Landlord will not be in violation of any Homeowner’s Association agreements or other legally binding contracts or applicable laws by renting the Condominium to Tenant according to the terms of this Agreement.” (ie, I thought this meant that he had followed DC laws when renting our apartment to us)
“If during the Lease Term Landlord sells the Condominium, Landlord shall make a condition to the sale that requires the Condominium purchaser to step into the shoes of the Landlord in this Agreement and be bound to all the terms of the Agreement in a capacity identical to that of the original Landlord who was a signatory to this Agreement. Also, if during the Lease Term Landlord sells the Condominium, Landlord shall transfer the entire balance of the Refundable Deposit to the any new landlord who assumes the role of “Landlord” in this Agreement.”
Does anyone have any advice or experience with a similar situation? 

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That second lease provision appears to require that the new owner rent to you until your lease term is up; you better get in contact with the landlord that you intend to hold to that portion of the lease.  Yeah you have right of first refusal; typically you have 90 days notice to vacate, but that lease provision might overcome that. 

Also, the “illegal” apartment stuff wouldn’t have anything to deal with him not being able to sell the apartment (he would be subject to potential fines, but I don’t think DCRA really enforces these things), but you could use it as some kind of leverage to make sure the owner requires the new owner to bind himself to your lease.

I don’t think they only work with latinos and low income, in any case what I was thinking is that you could go there and ask somebody for advice or guide; I don’t think they’ll say no. In any case, I have a copy of the “Tenant Survival Guide” (Georgetown U. Law Center) if you want it. 

This is helpful to any renters in DC:
As uvaeer said, you not only get the 90 days after sale, but you (probably – true for house; condo = ?) get right of first refusal to match any offer. So you could buy the place. But you could also use it to drag out procedings by being a stickler. You get time to decide whether to match an offer. So your total “time to being kicked out” is greater than 3 months, not even considering the contract.
IANAL, but your lease seems cut and dried based on what you quoted. You can live there until end of lease. If they break that, you have grounds for legal action. Presumably, if the new owner wants you out, they’d begin notification procedures in advance, so as to get you out / not renew the lease.
On the illegal thing … it is leverage, but if they’re treating you fairly, and honor the year lease, why screw them over?
Finally, I doubt your lease says anything about keeping it “showing ready”. Probably some stuff on basic cleanliness, but there’s a big difference between that and a staged apartment. I’d just live a tiny bit tidier than normally (depending on “normal!” :). Within reason, it’s not your problem if that impact the sale. If the owner wants you to do more, that’s an inconvenience to you and an independent negotiation. And it’s not your job to show the apartment, either. Their agent will do that, subject to DC’s tenant notification laws and / or your contract. You may want to be there while it shows, but it’s not your job to do the work.
Bottom line – you’ll be somewhat inconvenienced, and have to find a new place, but you have a lot of protections too.

I apologize for the confusion, which was likely caused by the fact that I myself, having only just recently been confronted with this situation, am not sure exactly what I want. Truly, what I want is to go back in time when I was renting hassle-free until May 2014 with my original landlord. Now with a prospective sale, new landlord, and the inconvenience of “showing” my apartment all on the table, I’m just trying to figure out what my best options and rights are.
So I guess I’m just looking for all ideas about how to handle this, what I am and am not required to do for the landlord here, and any advice from people who may have found themselves in a similar situation in the past.

This is a huuuuuuge discussions.  So email me if you’d like to continue it.  [email protected]

In regards to lizlemon’s reply to zenlex:  “rights for which we pay dearly” seems a bit extreme of a description.  You are at the end of a two year lease.  Your landlord has given you ample heads up that he/she wants to sell.  Be respectful – find another place to live – and move out.  Then you don’t have to deal with anything – and you’ll probably have to move out anyway.  The new landlord and even your current landlord have full rights to raise your rent by ANY amount they want after the first year of a lease, which you have completed. And your landlord did not take advantage of that option. ( Yes – any rental under 4 units – you are a single – can be raised for any $$ amount – like – doubled. )      You are not getting screwed over.  If you were getting screwed over you’d come home to a lockbox on your unit door as the indicator the unit was listed for sale.  Also – no one is going to pay you more or cut your rent to leave your place “looking nice” – DC is a hot market – your sloppiness/stinkiness won’t factor in on a buyer’s choice.  Reading your posting you sound like a youngster, a lil big for your britches, and lacking some real world experience.  Are you paying your rent or are your parents?  Just curious.  Anyway – good luck – but – really, think about the landlord’s situation as well – it’s a small world and we all need to get along.

So here is the rub.
Yes, he has to give you right of first refusal, but that buys you max of 90 days and unless you can afford the condo or actually want to buy it, what is the point.
Second, you aren’t living in an “illegal” basement apartment without a c of o. You are living in a fee simple, condominium which he can rent as he pleases (within the bounds of his condo regs). There is nothing illegal to notify the city about, so I am not sure what that is going to get you.
The best solution for you is to nicely neogiate for a “bonus” to get you to break your lease, 2-3K to make it worth your while to leave. Don’t get greedy and ask for 10K or something, because he will say no and you will be out in ~3 months anyway without any benefit to you.
None of this is ideal, but it is always a reality when you are renting someones private property. Life situations change, people need to move, take other jobs, finacial situations change.

None of you know what you’re talking about. 🙁 You need to talk to an attorney – a sale without first right of refusal to a tenant can be revoked. Your course of action depends on whether you want to stay or not. I say ask for a move out bonus. Also, the buyer buys subject to your lease. They can’t just kick you out. Tthe next owner will have to take you to Landlord Tenant court to get you out and must have a legal reason – and an owner with an illegal rental (without basic business license and bought without following TOPA) is going to have a difficult time doing so.

Lilamama is correct and WasonH is being a jerk.

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