How to Sell an Occupied House with Tenants: Moe Buys Homes Guide

Investing in properties is a great way to secure your financial future, and Moe Buys Home understands that. Whether you plan to flip a property or rent it out to tenants, the potential for financial gain is promising. But, when obstacles like tenants come into play, the process becomes a bit more challenging.

When you invite tenants to live on your property, they become a significant consideration for the future of that property. The same tenants who helped you hold onto that valuable investment might now pose a hurdle when you want to sell. There are legal ways to navigate the tenant-landlord relationship in this situation. Read on to discover some helpful tips on selling an occupied house with tenants.

Is it possible to sell a house that has tenants residing in it?

The answer is yes, it is possible to sell a house that tenants still occupy. But, there may be exceptions based on your location. In most states, tenants generally have the right to stay in the property until the end of their lease. Thus, you cannot evict them or use dubious tactics to force them to move out before the lease is up. As long as you respect and adhere to the tenant’s rights, you can sell the property even if it has occupants. Yet, it is important to review local and federal tenants’ rights ordinances to avoid any violations.

Maintaining a healthy and workable landlord-tenant relationship is crucial, and Moe Buys Home understands that. So, the first step is to talk to your tenant about your desire to sell. They might be willing to move before the lease ends, or they may provide you with valuable insights on why it’s an inconvenient time for them to move.

Open communication with your tenant can help you make practical and time-sensitive decisions that prevent future hassles. It’s also important to review your lease agreement, especially in cases of long-term tenancy. There might be lease provisions, favoring either party, that you have overlooked. Even if you have the legal right to sell, a clause in the lease could still prevent you from doing so. Always double-check before making any significant moves.

How to Sell an Occupied House with Tenants

As mentioned earlier, the type of lease agreement in place dictates your options when selling a home that you have been renting out. Let’s explore various scenarios and paths you can take.

Tenants who have leases with a fixed term

Selling an occupied home is straightforward when tenants are on fixed-term leases. You have two primary options:

A) Wait Until the Lease Ends to Sell: The simplest solution is to put your plans to sell on hold until the tenant’s current lease expires. While your tenant might be annoyed that the option to renew isn’t available, they have no legal basis to argue against the sale. The end of the lease signifies the end of your contractual obligation to them. Waiting until the lease ends also allows for easier coordination of repair work and showings, and it keeps the house in a ready condition for potential buyers.

B) List with Tenants in Place: Sometimes circumstances need a more urgent sale, and you might not be able to wait for the lease to expire. Selling during the lease term doesn’t violate any rules or injustice to the tenants. Yet, you must be prepared for potential concerns from your tenant. They might worry about rent increases, non-renewal of the lease, invasion of privacy during showings, or being held accountable for property damage. Open communication about your needs and reasons for listing can help reduce tension and avoid significant issues.

C) Sell to a Cash Buyer: If you know the buyer intends to use the property as a rental, selling to a cash buyer can be a viable option. This eliminates many of the concerns tenants may have, such as frequent inspections and assessments. With a cash buyer like Moe Buys Home, the only change for the tenant is whom to make the check out to each month.

Tenants who have leases on a month-to-month basis

Selling a property with tenants on month-to-month leases presents more challenges. Here are two options you can consider:

A) Renegotiate: Since there’s no end date on a month-to-month lease, you need to come to an agreed conclusion with the tenant. This usually involves renegotiating the terms, offering benefits or incentives to the tenant, which can be costly and time-consuming for you. Reduced rent or a few months of subsidized rent can be effective incentives to encourage the tenant to stop the lease early.

B) End: In certain states or regions, you may be able to stop the lease without specific reasons, as long as you are not acting on housing discrimination. But, you must follow the proper protocol for terminating a lease, which usually involves providing the least required amount of notice, such as the standard thirty-day notice. Selling a property takes longer than thirty days, so there should be enough time for you to sell and for the tenant to find new housing. Make sure to follow the appropriate legal requirements for serving the termination notice to avoid any issues.

Dealing with Reluctant Tenants

It’s important to understand that tenants may be resistant to moving, even with open communication. They might have valid reasons such as familiarity with the neighborhood, financial constraints, or personal connections in the area. Here are some options you can offer to your tenants:

Offer to Sell to Them First: Your tenants might have developed an attachment to the property, especially if they have lived there for a long time. Consider offering them the opportunity to buy the property themselves. This can save them the hassle of finding a new place and cover moving costs, while also providing you with a reliable buyer. Rent-to-own or owner-financing options can be explored if they are not ready to buy immediately.

Offer Incentives: If your tenants are willing to move, providing incentives can make the process more appealing to them. Consider options such as waiving the last month’s rent, paying for their first month in a new place, or reducing the current rental amount. If the tenant is concerned about showings, you can offer to pay for professional cleaning services or compensate them for any inconvenience.

Dealing with Troublesome Tenants

While conflicts with tenants are not desirable, sometimes issues arise that can disrupt the sale process. If tenants engage in illegal activities or cause chaos to stall the sale, you may have grounds to end the lease legally. But, it is important to avoid seeking out lease violations and accusing tenants. If their behavior goes against the terms and agreements in the lease, you have the right to stop it. Remember to follow proper legal procedures to ensure your actions hold up in court.


Selling an occupied property with tenants can be a complicated process, but Moe Buys Home is here to help. Just because you have the opportunity to sell doesn’t mean your tenants are ready to move. But, you can take various real estate routes to make the transition smooth and beneficial for all parties involved. Whether you choose to renegotiate terms, incentivize the tenant to move out, or find a buyer who will honor the lease, open communication from the beginning is crucial in maintaining trust and cooperation. Moe Buys Home understands the complexities of selling an occupied house and is committed to guiding you through the process while respecting the rights and needs of your tenants.

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