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Selling a tenanted property can feel like a minefield. Perhaps you're wondering how to sell a house fast for cash when you have sitting tenants, feel concerned about the impact of protected tenancy, or have found yourself dealing with particularly difficult tenants.

We offer a straightforward, discrete approach to selling a property with sitting tenants. It's easy, there are no void periods, and you don't need to worry about loss of rent. We have plenty of experience in discerning the value of a property with sitting tenants and in organizing a fast sale. In this guide, we aim to demystify this topic so that you know how to proceed with your sale. We’ll outline the facts about selling a property with sitting tenants, tell you what we can offer you, and explain why a quick sale to a cash house buyer is the best choice if you have a sitting tenant.

What Is A Sitting Tenant?

The term "sitting tenant" refers to someone who is living in your flat or house at the time you decide to sell it. As the landlord, you can have a continuing contract with the tenant so that they still have the right to live in the home once it is owned by someone else. The number of properties sold with sitting tenants has increased over the last 3-5 years, and is currently at a ten-year high.

If you have a sitting tenant, you might worry that you're not eligible for our quick cash buy service. However, we're happy to take on properties with sitting tenants and can offer you a range of options to choose from (the details of which are outlined below).

Selling A Property With Sitting Tenants

Selling a house with tenants isn’t as difficult as you might think. We have access to cash reserves for buying both rented and vacant properties that you might need to sell. When you sell us your property with sitting tenants, you can gain access to the money that's otherwise locked up in owning your property. We can take the pressure off you as a landlord, and we can take on the tenants so that you don't need to stress about making the property vacant before a sale.

It's important to note that you're not obligated to inform your tenants if you choose to sell your property. We can extend you an offer without visiting the property or make an in-person valuation, so this means we can offer total privacy and discretion. We also have a wealth of experience with complex and tricky cases (with tenants who are difficult to remove from the property). Regardless of the details of your situation when selling a house with sitting tenants, we will be happy to make you an offer.

AST (Assured shorthold tenancies)

When an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement is in place, this means that if you want to evict the current tenants then you need to provide them with a section 21 notice. This involves giving them two months of notice before the date they must leave. You don't legally need to give a reason as part of serving an AST, but it often helps the process run smoothly if the tenants have a clear idea of why their living arrangements are being disrupted. Specific ASTs vary with respect to how long they protect tenants - for example, some do so for only the first 6 or 12 months.

Protected tenants

When you’re selling a property with tenants, you sometimes need to deal with protected tenants. This means that there are legal provisions in place to ensure that they cannot be charged more than a certain amount of money for their tenancy. This legal restriction can't be changed through any terms in a tenancy agreement.

While there are some exceptions to this list, a tenancy is often protected if:

  • The tenants have been in the house or flat since before April 2007
  • The property was initially rented out before October 1978
  • The property was either built or made fit for let before 1956.

When properties have a sitting tenant who qualifies as protected, you’ll find it hard to be approved for lending, or find another landlord willing to buy. In this situation, your best option is a specialist cash buyer like us, as we can quickly take your property off your hands. We have already bought many houses and flats housing protected tenants.

Life agreement tenants

Life agreement tenants have the right to stay in the flat or house until death, but they are prevented from selling the property or passing on any interest thereafter. This presents significant difficulties for landlords, as it's very hard to evict a tenant with a life agreement unless they already want to leave. However, there are good reasons for potential buyers to want to get hold of a property with a lifetime tenant - it provides a medium to long-term investment, as its value tends to rise over time.

If you have a property with a lifetime tenancy, contact us to discuss a quick cash sale. We'll ask you for some basic information about the property that will allow us to do some confidential research on its value, and then we'll make you a offer accordingly. We're as experienced with lifetime tenancy as we are with protected tenancy and ASTs, and we can usually make a preliminary offer within 48 hours.

Assured tenants

With an assured tenancy, the sitting tenant has long-term rights that protect them from eviction unless there are exceptional circumstances. Assured tenants also have rent security, in that they are able to challenge rent increases by appealing to a rent assessment committee. These tenants pay their rent to a private landlord and typically moved into the property between 1989 and 1997. However, some people with later move-in dates also have an assured tenancy if they have written notice of this from their landlord.

As a landlord, you can end an assured tenancy if you negotiate a "surrender" where there is an agreed date on which the tenancy ends, if you give official notice of the end of the assured tenancy, or if you trigger an eviction process because you have a legal reason to do so.

We buy properties with assured tenancies and can spare you the complexities associated with the above. You don't have to notify your tenant when you instigate this process with us, and we'll walk you through the steps you need to take to complete the sale.

Tenants with informal agreements

It's normal for tenants to sign an agreement before they move into a house or flat - this agreement will explain what the landlord and tenant can expect from each other. However, it's more common than most people think for there to be tenancies that don't involve a written agreement. Some of these tenancies are old (and so the document has been lost), and others are negotiated informally with friends or family. Occasionally, tenancies without official agreements also occur when tenants are allowed into the property before signing anything and then subsequently refuse to sign.

The lack of written agreement doesn't change the legality of the tenancy, however, provided there is a verbal agreement. This means that as a landlord, you have all the same obligations and the same rights as you would if you had a written contract.

We buy properties where sitting tenants have merely informal agreements, and we are experienced in dealing with this type of tenancy. Nothing prevents you from conducting a quick cash sale of your property, and after this point you will be free from obligation to negotiate with your informal tenants.

Commonly Asked Questions:

Is it possible to sell a property with an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement in place?

If you need to sell a flat fast or house with an AST, we offer you two main options. Firstly, you can agree to sell your property to us immediately, and we will then take on the property’s tenant until their agreement runs out. Alternatively, you can agree to sell your property to us and then complete it after the end of the AST.

When dealing with us, the details of an AST don't really matter - we’ll buy your property regardless. We buy flats and houses with all kinds of sitting tenants, including those with AST agreements (along with life agreement tenants, those with informal arrangements, and those who qualify as protected tenants).

What Are Sitting Tenant Rights?

Sitting tenants have the right to hand in their notice at the point at which they discover a property is going to be sold. By handing in their notice, they create a period where the landlord must pay the mortgage while waiting for the property to be sold. The sitting tenant also has the right to say no to property viewings, making life even harder for the landlord. And if they do allow viewings, they can choose to leave the property unclean and untidy (given that they have no stake in the property being sold and may actually be disinclined to help you).

Having a sitting tenant reduces the number of people you can sell your property to, because the average buyer uses mortgage finance but lenders don't typically allow access to mortgage funds unless the property is empty. In addition, the property is left unguarded, which may attract potential burglars

Benefits of selling your tenanted property to Property Buy

Here at Property Buy, we're highly experienced in buying flats and houses from property owners who need to sell a place with sitting tenants. When you sell to us for cash, it's insightful for you to learn about the cost to sell a house with us and the huge number of benefits - in particular, you don't have to pay for any of the following:

  • Estate agents fees of approximately 1-3% plus VAT.
  • Costs involved in serving notices and possibly court fees.
  • Loss of interest on the capital that you could be investing elsewhere while you are not getting any rent.
  • Potential void periods and mortgage payments where applicable.
  • Council Tax on the empty homes.
  • Increased insurance costs for an empty property.
  • Dilapidations caused during the tenancy would need to be put right through deposit deductions. The remedial works would also need to be undertaken before marketing the property for sale, thereby delaying the start of the marketing.
  • Utility bills which are due as a standing charge whilst the property is vacant
  • The expense of legal fees for court proceedings
  • Higher insurance prices associated with having a vacant property
  • Utility bills (e.g., gas and electricity) charged when your house or flat is empty

Whatever your situation, a member of our team will be happy to talk to you and collaborate on a plan for dealing with your tenanted property. We'd be delighted to hear from you.


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