Question: My landlord sold our rental unit. Can the new landlord change my lease provisions?
Answer: Unless your original lease contains a provision that states otherwise, the sale of your rental property will not change your original lease terms. The purchasing landlord steps into the shoes of the original landlord and assumes all of the same rights and obligations.
Generally, this means you are still required to pay the new landlord rent and the new landlord is required to provide you with the same services the original landlord was required to provide under your lease terms. The new landlord assumes the original landlord’s role so completely that (s)he is even entitled to sue you for any past rent you may have owed before (s)he purchased the property. Although this rule generally holds true, here are two special situations to keep in mind:
Security Deposit | Tenants have the right to collect their security deposit from the original landlord or the new landlord unless certain statutory provisions are met. The original landlord can only end his or her liability for your security deposit if: (1) (S)he transfers the security deposit to the new landlord and notifies you or (2) (S)he returns your security deposit back to you. If either of these provisions are met, you can only collect your security deposit from the new landlord.
Lease Provisions | Some lease provisions may alter or terminate your lease if the rental property is sold to a new owner. If this is the case, the lease provision becomes the controlling law and it may limit your rights to the property. In some cases, the new landlord may even have the right to terminate your tenancy and evict you from the property if you refuse to leave voluntarily.
The above describes your general rights, but please contact a local attorney to discuss your particular legal question. These general rules may be modified or changed based on the facts of your case.
Emil Dixon is the founder of the Davis Legal Center, a private law office located in Davis, California.