This article was posted on Monday, May 03, 2021

Q: A real estate agent reached out to me and I think I want to sell the condominium that I rent out, but I have a tenant living there. They are in a one-year lease that does not terminate until January 2022. Can I break the lease because I am selling the property? 

A: No, you cannot break the lease at the time of the sale unless your lease specifically states otherwise. You may want to speak to the tenant and ask if they would be willing to break the lease or offer to buy them out of the lease. 

You may sell the property tenant occupied, try to negotiate an earlier termination date, or try to buy the tenant out of the lease. Selling a property that is tenant occupied may limit the number of buyers willing to purchase the property. If the tenant will not agree to move before the expiration of the lease term your buyer will have to honor the lease.


Q: The tenant that is renting my property is currently on month-to-month and I have decided to sell the rental property. Can I terminate their tenancy? What type of notice do I serve?

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A: Maybe, you need to consult an attorney that specializes in Landlord/Tenant law that is knowledgeable about the current real property laws. Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, California has passed temporary laws that affect the landlord’s ability to terminate month-to-month tenancies when the owner of the property wants to sell. You need to make sure the information that you are being provided is current and applicable to where your property is located and how long the tenant has occupied the property. 

Q: I am selling my rental home and my tenant still living there. What do I do to show the property to prospective buyers? 

A: It is sometimes difficult to schedule showings around a tenant. You must give the tenant at least 24 hours’ notice of your intent to show the property to prospective buyers. If, within the past 120 days, you or your agent has notified the resident in writing that the property is for sale, then you may give the 24 hours’ notice of your intent to show orally, in person, or by telephone. However, you cannot force the tenant to allow you access to show the property. If the tenant will not give you reasonable access to show the property, then you will need to contact an attorney’s office for further direction.  Additionally, the landlord has the right to hold an open house while the property is tenant occupied. The landlord should speak to the tenant to find an agreeable date and time for an open house.  When dealing with situations such as these, try to work with the tenant’s schedule and hopefully, they will be reasonable in providing access to help you get the property sold.

Q: I purchased an apartment building that is at full occupancy. What do I need to do to let the tenants know that I am the new owner of the building? 

A: You are required to serve your tenants with a notice of change of ownership/management every time ownership or management changes. This notice must include the name, telephone number, and street address for personal service of each of the following: 1) authorized manager, 2) agent for service of process of the owner, and 3) the person or entity to make rent checks payable to. The notice must also include the forms in which payments are made, such as by check, money order, cashier’s check, and/or cash. If rent payments are made personally, then the notice must also include the business hours when a tenant may make a payment. Alternatively, the lease or rental agreement may provide information to the tenant to make electronic payment or payment to a bank as long as the bank is located within five miles of the rental unit. 

Q: I just purchased a new rental property and I do not like the terms of the lease? Can I change the terms of a fixed-term lease before it expires?

A: No, when you purchase a rental property, and the tenant has a lease that has not expired, you cannot unilaterally change the terms until the lease expires. You can offer to negotiate a new lease or rental agreement with the tenants once you become the owner of the property, but you cannot force the tenant to sign a new contract. Once the lease expires, you may serve the tenant a 30-Day Notice of Change in Terms of Tenancy to supplement or change the terms of the pre-existing lease/rental agreement. Once the 30-Day Notice of Change in Terms of Tenancy expires, the terms in the notice will be enforceable lease/rental agreement terms. 


Attorney Franco Simone, of Simone & Associates and The Landlords’ Legal Center, has been doing evictions for over 20 years.  He is also an adjunct law professor at the University of San Diego.  Mr. Simone’s office is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Tel: 619-235-6180, website: or email [email protected].