This article was posted on Tuesday, Nov 01, 2016

Q: I want to sell my rental property but I have a tenant living there. They are in a one-year lease that doesn’t terminate until June. Can I break the lease by selling the property?
A: No, you cannot break the lease at the time of the sale unless your lease specifically states otherwise. 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 tenant occupied limits the number of buyers willing to purchase the property. The buyer would most likely be an investor or a person willing to wait until the lease has expired to move into the property. You also 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.  

Q: I plan on selling my rental property in the City of San Diego. My tenant is on a month to month agreement. What notice do I serve my tenant to get them out before I sell?
A: You will need to serve a 30 Day Notice to Quit, a 60 Day Notice to Quit, a 60 Day Notice to Quit this Cause, or a 90 Day Notice to Quit with Cause. If the tenant has lived in the unit for less than one year, then you will need to give the tenant a 30 Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant has been in the property for more than one year but less than two years, then you will need to give the tenant a 60 Day Notice to Quit. If your tenant has rented the property for more than two years, then you must give the tenant a 60 Day Notice to Quit with Cause. In the City of San Diego, tenants that have occupied a unit for longer than two years are entitled to know why the landlord is terminating their tenancy under the Tenants Right to Know Ordinance (San Diego Municipal Code Chapter 9, §98.0730). If your tenant receives Section 8 housing, then you must give 90 Day Notice to Quit with Cause.  If you choose to serve a Notice to Quit, then you should contact an attorney’s office to make sure you have the proper language in your notice.  

Q: I am selling my rental property and have already opened escrow. The buyers just informed me that they do not want to keep the tenant. What type of notice do I serve?
A: You may serve a 30 Day Notice to Quit if all of the following conditions apply: A.) You entered into a contract to sell the rental property to a natural person(s); B.) The buyer intends to reside in the rental property for at least one year following the termination of the tenancy in the property; C.) You have established an escrow with an escrow company licensed by the Department of Corporations, Department of Insurance or a licensed Real Estate Broker;

D.) Escrow was opened 120 or fewer days prior to the delivery of this Notice; E.) Title to the Premises is separately alienable from any other dwelling unit (I.e., It is a single· family unit or condominium); and F.) The tenant has not previously been given a notice of termination of tenancy. 

Q: I am selling my property with my tenant still living there. What do I do to show the property to buyers?
A: It is difficult to schedule showings around a tenant. You must give the tenant 24 hours notice of the intent to show the property to prospective buyers. You may give the notice orally, in person, or by telephone if the owner or his or her agent has notified the resident in writing within 120 days of the oral notice that the property is for sale. 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.  

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Q: My rental property is in escrow. Do I need to give the security deposit back to the tenant?
A: No, the security deposit and rental agreement will transfer to the new owner. The security deposit is to be handled in accordance with California law after the termination of a tenancy.  The new owner will take over the agreement that was previously signed. It will be the new owner’s responsibility to inform the tenant of the change in ownership.  

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].