Selling a property with a sitting tenant


f you have a genuine sitting tenant in your property, there are a number of obstacles you need to overcome before you even think about selling the property.

This creates an extremely difficult situation as the process of evicting these tenants is usually long, highly costly, and a big hassle to sort out.

What if I have inherited a property with a sitting tenant?

If you have inherited a property and discovered that the property has a sitting tenant who pays rent but will not sign any kind of agreement, then it may be worth trying to negotiate with them.

If they then decide that they wish to remain in the property and that they are happy to pay rent it might be an idea to enter into a tenancy agreement. This way, there will be a guaranteed rental income every month.

If however, the situation goes the opposite way and the tenant is causing problems then you need to contact a solicitor who will be able to advise you how the entire process will work.

How to sell a property with a sitting tenant

 Firstly, you need to be sure that the letting agreement includes a right for you to show potential purchasers around the house. This right is not implied and without it you must get vacant possession before you even put the house on the market.

There will, of course be a time period between the tenant leaving and the completion of the sale.

The only guarantee you have that the sitting tenant will actually leave on a particular date is the guarantee that on that date you find they are gone. Landlords find that most sitting tenants do however, become nightmares once they find out that the property is being sold from under them.

Assuming that there is an assured shorthold tenancy – two months notice must be given to bring the tenancy to an end. If the sitting tenant does not leave then you must commence proceedings.

If all of the documents are in order, you will be able to use an “accelerated possession” procedure – this is where you will be given a hearing hopefully within six weeks.

If you then win this order for possession, the court will usually delay the possession itself for a further month.

After this month you apply for an eviction date or an eviction involving bailiffs whichever is the case, who will sort out the arrangement with the sitting tenant in another few weeks.

Sometimes the courts are overrun with cases and proceedings will take a longer period of time.  To obtain possession against a sitting tenant who is unwilling to leave can take at least three to four months to complete.

It is not unusual to find that the tenancy agreement has not been properly drafted, and when this happens the process can take longer and prove more costly if great care is not taken.

The house must be vacant before an exchange of contracts is made, at this point completion can be arranged for within a few days.