How to Sell a House with Tenants: Pros, Cons, and What to Do

Sell a house with a tenant

When it comes time to sell your house, you may find that you have tenants in situ. This can present a unique set of challenges, but it is not impossible to sell house with a tenant. Sold property always comes with a certain amount of stipulations and conditions.

Today, we’re going to discuss the pros and cons of selling a property that already has a sitting tenant. Many people believe that it’s easier to sell a property that comes with someone already living in it. However, there are certain disadvantages that come along with this type of sale as well.

Sitting tenant: Who is that?

We deal with sitting tenants or sometimes referred to as tenants in situ when the tenant-occupied property is put on the market for sale. To sell the property, the owner must follow strict rules and regulations set by the government. The tenant has certain rights that protect them from being forced to leave their home before the end of their signed tenancy agreement.

The term ‘sitting tenant’ is a bit of a misnomer as there is no legal definition for it. It is not even a phrase that you will find in the tenancy agreement. It is more of a description used to identify a tenant who occupies a property that is up for sale.

What are the types of tenancy agreements?

In England, there are six types of tenancy agreements, the most common are AST(Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement ), you may come across a regulated tenancy or a lodger tenancy agreement as well, depending on the situation of the tenants.

An assured shorthold tenancy gives the tenant the legal right to live in your property for a fixed term – usually six or twelve months. When the fixed term expires the tenancy can be renewed at the end of this period if both parties agree.

A regulated tenancy is slightly different from an AST in that it often applies to tenants who have been living in their property for a long time. Your rights as a tenant depend on when your agreement was signed.

If you’re renting from private landlords who haven’t been around since before 1989, then chances are good that these agreements were made under the Rent Act and thus provide some strong protections for tenants like yourself!

Regulated tenants pay a so-called fair rent which usually is below market value. The landlord also cannot evict a tenant who signed a regulated tenancy agreement unless there is a legal reason to do so.

A lodger tenancy agreement is different again as the lodger will be living in your property with you. This means that they don’t have exclusive use of any part of the property and are usually only allowed to use certain areas, like the kitchen or bathroom, at certain times.

What are the tenant’s rights when the landlord sells the property?

The tenants in situ have the right to live in the property for the duration of their tenancy agreement and should not be disturbed by viewings or open days.

If the sitting tenants are on an AST, the landlord must give them at least two months’ notice that they intend to sell the property.

The landlord must also protect the tenant’s deposit in a government-approved scheme and give them the prescribed information about the deposit within 28 days of receiving it. If the landlord doesn’t do this, they may be liable to pay the tenant up to three times the deposit.

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What are the landlord’s obligations when selling a property with sitting tenants?

When selling properties with tenants in situ, the landlord has certain obligations to both the tenant and the buyer.

The landlord is obliged to carry out repair work and to keep the property in a good state of repair. The tenant should be given 24 hours’ notice if the landlord or their agent needs to enter the property for repairs or to show buyers around.

If there are any major works planned that will require the tenants to move out, such as refurbishment or extensions, then the landlord must give them at least four weeks’ notice in writing. The sitting tenants may be entitled to compensation if they have to move out because of major works

Why landlords are selling their properties?

There are many reasons why landlords sell their tenanted properties, but the most common reason is that they need to release equity. This might be because they need to downsize, move to a different area or raise money for another project.

Some professional landlords sell because they’re unhappy with the current tenant and want to sell up and move on. In this case, the landlord needs to follow the proper procedures for ending a tenancy agreement. Another reason is that by 2025 all buy-to-let properties need to meet the requirement of energy rating C or above on the energy performance certificate (EPC).

This may require landlords to make expensive improvements to their properties, such as installing double glazing or insulation, which they may not be able to afford if they have many houses in their property portfolio.

Can I ask the landlord if they are planning to sell?

If you’re a sitting tenant in a property that you believe is about to be put on the market, it’s natural to feel a little worried. After all, if the property is sold you may need to move out if that’s the landlord’s decision.

The good news is that, in most cases, you have the right to know if your landlord is planning to sell the property. You can do this by asking them directly, or by looking for signs that they’re preparing to sell (e.g., they’ve instructed an estate agent to value the property).

Can a tenant buy the property they live in?

If you’re a tenant in a property and you think your landlord is planning to sell, it’s worth considering whether you could buy the property yourself. This is known as ‘buying your own home with a sitting tenant’ and it can be a great way to get on the property ladder.

Of course, there are some pros and cons to consider before making an offer.

Does a sitting tenant devalue a landlord’s property?

When it comes to selling a property with a sitting tenant, there’s no definitive answer as to whether or not it will devalue the property. It depends on the situation and, in some cases, sitting tenants may add value.

For example, if the tenant is well-liked and known to be a good-paying tenant, this could make the property more attractive to buyers. However, if the tenant is in rent arrears or has caused damage to the property, this could devalue the property.

If you’re thinking of selling a property with a tenant, it’s important to get professional advice to ensure you make the right decision. An experienced estate agent or a professional property buyer will be able to provide you with an accurate valuation of your property.

Selling a house with problematic sitting tenants

As a landlord, If you have sitting tenants who are causing problems, you’ll likely want to sell the property as soon as possible. In these cases, it’s best to seek professional advice from an experienced property buyer.

They’ll be able to advise you on the best way to sell your property, taking into account the current situation with your tenants in situ.

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When to serve notice on tenants in situ

If you’re planning to sell your rental property, you’ll need to give your sitting tenants notice following the terms of their tenancy agreement.

This is typically two months’ notice, but it’s always best to check the agreement to be sure. Once you’ve served notice, the tenants will have a set period to vacate the rental property (usually four to six weeks).

Once the sitting tenants have moved out, you can then start marketing the property. It’s important to note that, in most cases, you’ll need to wait until the end of the tenancy agreement before you can sell the property. This is because most buyers will want a vacant property.

No fault eviction – serving section 21

If you want to sell your property but the sitting tenants are unwilling to move out, you may need to consider serving them with a section 21 notice. This is also known as a ‘no fault eviction’ and it allows landlords to evict sitting tenants without giving a reason. However, there are strict rules that must be followed when serving a section 21 notice. For example, the notice must be served correctly and at least two months before the date of eviction.

What are the options for selling a property with sitting tenants?

There are three main options for selling a property that is occupied by tenants:

– sell the property with the tenant in situ;

– serve notice on the tenant and sell the property vacant;

– sell the tenancy agreement to a fellow landlord (also known as an assignment).

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How to organise a viewing of a tenanted property?

If you’re selling a property with sitting tenants, there are a few things to keep in mind. You’ll need to organise viewings around your tenants’ schedules- give your tenants enough notice- be respectful of their privacy.

What is the cost of selling a tenanted property?

The cost of selling a property with sitting tenants will depend on the route you take. If you sell with the tenant in situ, there will be no costs for evicting the tenant. However, if you sell the tenancy agreement, you will need to pay the agent’s fees and any other associated costs.

If you sell the property vacant, you will need to factor in the cost of any necessary repairs or refurbishments. You may also need to pay for a professional clean and/or new carpets. You cannot forget to factor in any additional costs such as estate agent fees, conveyancing costs, and any mortgage-related costs such as mortgage exit fees or early repayment fees. Import to remember that when selling a rented property you are obligated by law to pay capital gains tax.

What to do when you’re a sitting tenant and the landlord is selling the rental property?

It can be a bit nerve-wracking when your landlord tells you they want to sell the property.

Luckily, most of this paperwork is on their side so it won’t affect what happens with deposits or anything like that!

When they finally do decide to sell the property to a new landlord the following may happen:

a confirmation email or letter will come through from the new landlord giving details about themselves.

They may want you to sign a new agreement, the inventory might be updated and/or a new one done, and the deposit protection scheme date needs to be updated.

The documents you need in place to sell a tenanted property:

  • current tenancy agreement
  • right to rent documents
  • EPC certificate
  • valid gas safety certificate
  • tenancy deposit paperwork
  • any legal notices if you have served them on a tenant

The pros and cons of selling a property with a sitting tenant


On the plus side, you won’t have to worry about finding new tenants or dealing with void periods. You also won’t need to pay for things like advertising or referencing fees.

And, if you have good tenants in place, they can help to sell the property by keeping it clean and tidy for viewings.

No need to worry about the break in the rental income.


On the downside, you may need to give your sitting tenants plenty of notice if you want to show prospective buyers around – which could be difficult if they’re not cooperative.

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3 most popular ways to sell a tenanted property:

sell a house through an estate agent

sell a house at auction

sell a house to a cash buyer

The advantages and disadvantages of each method:

Selling through an estate agent:


– Estate agents have a wide network of potential buyers.

– They will market your property in the right way to attract the right type of buyer.

– An experienced estate agent will be able to negotiate on your behalf to get the best possible price for your property with sitting tenants.


– You will need to pay the estate agent’s fees, which are typically around 0.75% – 0.95% + VAT of the final sale price.

– The process can take several months from start to finish so you may lose rental income

Selling at auction:


– Auctions are a fast way to sell a property. The sale is usually completed within eight weeks of the auction date.

– You can set a reserve price, so you’re guaranteed not to sell your property for less than this amount.

– Auctions can create a sense of urgency and competition among buyers, which can result in a higher sale price.


– There is no guarantee that your property will sell at auction.

– If your property doesn’t sell, you may be liable for the auctioneer’s fees, which are typically around £2000 + VAT.

Selling to a property buying company:


– The sale process is usually much quicker with a cash buyer as there is no need for a mortgage application or loan approval.

– You are guaranteed to sell your property as long as the buyer has the funds available.

– They will work within a chosen timeframe.


– Cash buyers usually offer a lower price for properties than buyers who are taking out a mortgage. Usually, it is 10%-15% below the open market value.

– It’s an unregulated market so it’s important to choose a company you can trust, a good indicator is that they are accredited by the TPO (The Property Ombudsman) and the NAPB (The National Association of Property Buyers)


As you may know, from 2025, the EPC rating needs to be upgraded to C or above for all rented properties.

This will make it difficult for many people to make a decision on what to do with their property, whether that be evicting tenants, serving a section 21 notice, or selling the house with tenants.

In this article, we explored the pros and cons of selling a house with tenants, as well as how to organise viewings and what documents you need in place.

As you can see, there are pros and cons to each method of selling a tenanted property.

It’s important to weigh up all of your options before deciding on how to sell your property.

If you’re thinking of selling your property, we recommend getting in touch with a professional to get started.

They will be able to advise you on the best way to sell your property and guide you through the process from start to finish. We hope this article has been helpful.

Good luck!

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