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Landlords and tenants need to co-operate when selling a home

There is lots of confusion as to the rights of landlords and tenants in Ontario when a home is put up for sale. Landlords are trying to bully tenants into leaving and tenants are refusing to permit potential buyers to see the home. Here are the rules:

  • Landlords can sell their home at any time;
  • If the tenant has a lease, they cannot be evicted before the end of their lease term;
  • Tenants must permit showings to potential buyers, as long as 24 hours’ advance written notice is given and the showing takes place between 8 am to 8 pm. Tenants need to make sure that any pets that they own are kept securely during showings. Tenants are permitted to be at the home during showings, although it is not mandatory.
  • If a tenant’s lease has ended, they automatically become a monthly tenant and must still be given 60 days’ notice to vacate, provided that a buyer has already unconditionally agreed to buy the home.

Some tenants believe that if they still have a lease for several months, the landlord cannot show the home to potential buyers. Wrong. If the buyers do purchase the home, they must still respect the terms of the lease when they take over as landlord. At the end of the lease term, the buyers, now the owner, can provide a 60 days’ eviction notice based on the fact that they need the home for themselves or their family. If a tenant refuses to permit showings after proper notice has been given, the landlord can start eviction proceedings as this is a breach of conduct by the tenant. The landlord could also potentially claim damages from the tenant if the tenant’s actions prevent the landlord from selling the home in a timely manner. Landlords cannot trick tenants into leaving either, pretending to move in so that the tenant vacates and then immediately fixing the place up and selling it. The tenant can sue the landlord for damages if this occurs. This can include all the tenant’s moving costs and higher rent that may have been paid elsewhere. The Board may also add additional fines for breaking the law. If you are planning to sell your home, my advice is to approach your tenant first to work out a plan for showings that accommodates everyone, so that the tenant can properly plan to protect their valuables and secure any pets and the landlord can permit potential buyers to see the home on a timely basis. As an example, agree to permit showings only from 4-6 pm each day. Some landlords assist their tenant first in finding another place to live, even before putting the home up for sale. This is also an excellent solution, in my opinion. The tenant gets to find another place, without the stress of an eviction proceeding, and the landlord then gets to later fix up their home and make it more presentable to a wider range of potential buyers. When landlords and tenants understand the rules and co-operate when a home is being sold, everyone wins.

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Mark  Weisleder, Real Estate Lawyer, Author, Speaker

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