Know Your Rights as a Tenant in California

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What To Do When Your Tenants Sabotage Your Home Sale

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Selling a home that has tenants is challenging enough. Unfortunately, some renters make the process even more difficult by doing things to sabotage the sale, such as refusing access or damaging the property. If you're having a difficult time getting potential buyers to commit and suspect your renters are the source of the issue, here are two ways to deal with the situation.

Pay Them to Vacate

It is much easier to sell an empty home than an occupied one, and this is particularly true when it comes to rental property. Although you may enjoy receiving rental income while your home is on the market, your tenants may actually cause you to lose money on the home sale.

For instance, a disgruntled renter may tell potential buyers about issues that didn't need to be disclosed (such as a nuisance neighbor) resulting in lower offers. Particularly malicious tenants may damage the property, forcing you to either fix the issue or accept a reduced price.

In most states, tenants are legally entitled to live out the balance of their leases, so you cannot evict them without good cause. Even if you have a sound case for eviction, it can take months to get the tenants out of the home due to how slow the courts work.

A way around this is to pay the tenants to move out. It may seem like a waste of cash when you first consider the idea but, with the tenants out of the way, your real estate agent can properly do their job, which may result in a faster closing for more money.

Connect with a real estate agent about this option before proposing it to your tenants. The attorney can help you negotiate a fair amount to pay them as well as put together a contract that protects your interests.

Sue for Interference

While tenants have the right to continue living in the home before, during, and even after the sale—depending on when their leases expire—they don't have the right to interfere with the transaction. Thus, if you have proof that your renters caused you to lose money on the sale or prevented it altogether, you can sue them for damages.

The tort you would use is called Tortious Interference with a Business Relationship, and it can be a little tricky to prove. If you're able to adequately make your case, though, you may be awarded the amount of money you lost as a result of the defendant's actions.

It's best to consult with a real estate attorney if you choose to go this route. The attorney can review the facts of your case and help you put together a case that helps you get the outcome you want.

For more information about this issue or assistance with legal problems related to the sale of your home, contact a local real estate lawyer.