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There are a lot of misconceptions about a tenant’s rights and responsibilities when a landlord is selling. Below, we answer the most common questions per the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA).

Tenant Evictions

My landlord informed me that they want to sell the property and that I need to move out. 

In Ontario, tenants cannot be evicted because a landlord is listing their property for sale. If the tenant is in a lease, the new owner assumes the tenant; if the tenant is month-to-month, the new buyer can give 60 days’ notice of their intention to move into the property. Tenants cannot be made to move out in advance of a property sale.

I’m in a lease, and my landlord just sold the condo I am living in. Do I have to leave so the new owner can move in? 

In this situation, the terms and conditions of your lease transfer to the new owner, and they assume the landlord’s responsibilities. This means that:

  • The new owner will be your landlord when they take possession of the home
  • You will pay rent to the new owner
  • Your last month’s rent deposit will be transferred to the new owner
  • Your rights and responsibilities under your lease remain unchanged for the full duration of the lease. 

At the end of your lease, one of the following 3 things can happen:

  1. You became a month-to-month tenant (meaning that you can provide 60 days’ notice of your intention to leave); the terms of your original lease remain in place
  2. You and the landlord agree to sign another lease (note that you can’t be forced to sign another lease, it’s just an option)
  3. The new owner (your landlord) can provide you with 60 days notice of their intention to move into the home for their personal use. 

My lease ended, and I am currently a month-to-month tenant. My landlord sold the property…what will happen to me? 

One of 3 things can happen:

  1. Nothing changes. The new owner assumes your tenancy, and your last month’s deposit is transferred to them; everybody’s rights and responsibilities remain unchanged. Note that if it’s been more than 12 months since your last rent increase, they may choose to increase your rent according to the guidelines. 
  2. You and your new landlord can choose to sign a new lease (you can’t be forced to sign a new lease) 
  3. Your new landlord can give you 60 days notice of their intention to move-in and provide you with compensation equal to one month’s rent. Note that the current landlord can provide that notice on behalf of the new owner. 

My landlord sold the property I live in, and the new owner wants to move in. What do I need to know? 

Under Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act: 

  • Your landlord must provide you with minimum 60 days notice, counting from the beginning of the next lease period (i.e. if you pay rent on the 1st of the month, the notice must be given no later than the 1st of the month BEFORE the last month of the tenancy)
  • The notice will be given on the N12 form
  • They must provide you with compensation equal to one month’s rent (paid before the end of the lease)
  • The person moving in must be the landlord or their immediate family member (parent, child or spouse)
  • A landlord cannot act in bad faith. They must live in the unit for at least 12 months if they evict you for personal use. 

What does ‘cash for keys’ mean?

‘Cash for keys’ is a common term when a landlord and tenant reach an agreement to do something that falls outside the rules of the RTA. 

For example:

A landlord wants a tenant to leave before they list the home for sale. Because this isn’t permissible under the RTA, a landlord may approach a tenant and offer $$ in exchange for the tenant agreeing to leave. 

The amount of ‘cash’ offered in exchange for ‘keys’ varies depending on the situation and is negotiated between the landlord and tenant. The tenant will have to consider the costs to move and the difference between how much they are currently paying in rent vs what they will have to pay in the current market, while the landlord will need to consider how much they think they can profit by selling the home vacant. 

Buyer Showings

How much notice does my landlord have to give me for a showing?

Landlords must provide most tenants with 24-hours notice of a showing. 

Exception: If you have already provided your landlord with notice that you will be leaving (for example, at the end of your lease or with 60 days notice for month-to-month tenants), the RTA requires that the landlord make “reasonable efforts” to provide notice of a showing – but the 24-hour rule does not apply.

When can my landlord show my home to potential buyers? 

Showing appointments can legally be booked in Ontario between 8 AM and 8 PM.

Can I be home during showings? I want to be present, but I work from 9-5. What can I do?

Tenants can be home during a showing to a prospective buyer, however they cannot restrict showing times based on their personal schedules. You cannot insist on being home for every showing if you aren’t available from 8 am to 8 pm.  

What can I do to prepare for a buyer showing? 

As a tenant, you don’t have to do anything. But if you want to help expedite the sale (either for your own convenience or for the benefit of your landlord), consider:

  • Making sure the property is clean and tidy
  • Restraining pets in a carrier or finding other arrangements for them
  • Leaving the property during a showing

Always put away valuables and any items you don’t want potential buyers to see. 

Other FAQ’s for When Your Landlord is Selling the Property

Does my landlord have the right to take photos of the property?

Your landlord has the right to photograph the property but must provide appropriate notice of entry. Make sure to remove any personal belongings you don’t want to be photographed. 

My landlord’s REALTOR offered to send a cleaning company to prepare the apartment for showings. Do I have to agree?

No! This is usually just offered as a convenience to the tenant. A clean property will sell faster than one that hasn’t seen a vacuum in months, and that’s good news for both the landlord and the tenant. A faster sale means fewer showings and inconveniences. 

My landlord wants to stage the home that I live in. What are my options?

You do not have to agree to re-arrange your furniture or have your home professionally staged. It’s very rare for a tenanted property to be staged. 

Comments

  1. Julia Savage says:

    My landlord has told me they want to sell my condo in the new year. My lease is finished at the end of November. If I take a new place for August or September 1st, will I be on the hook for September, October and November rent?

    • Brendan Powell says:

      Your landlord can sell their property at any time, but your lease still takes precedence – so for example if they wanted to sell TODAY, they could…but you would still be entitled to stay until at least the end of your lease.
      On the flipside, you have committed to your lease until the end of November, and you can’t just leave and unilaterally get out of that responsibility.
      So the landlord selling doesn’t directly in itself impact your lease. HOWEVER, they may have picked “next year” to sell specifically because that would be after your lease term. If you speak to your landlord and say you would be happy to find a new place sooner, they may be more than happy to let you out of the remainder of your lease, and then they could simply sell sooner–that might be a positive thing for them.
      My advice is to talk to your landlord about it. As long as you are both in agreement, then you can both sign an N11 to MUTUALLY agree to end your lease early (only sign this once you have a new place lined up! But talk to the landlord beforehand).
      Good luck!

  2. I asked my landlord to be able to sublet while I’m caring for a relative. At first he refused saying they were going to renovate and sell. When I insisted that the sublet was temporary and I intended to move back in, he then said the sale would be at the end of my lease and the sublet could go ahead. He also offered 3 months rent if I’d move now. Should I haggle for more?

    • Brendan Powell says:

      It’s hard to give advice on this kind of thing as it’s very situation-specific. However as you do not HAVE to move out just because he is selling, make sure that you look into how much it will cost you to move and rent a new place before agreeing to sign anything.
      You will find many opinions online…but from my perspective that seems reasonable as long as it covers your costs with extra for any hassles–although now you’ll get the sublet at least!

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