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Sitting Tenants
Selling the House

For whatever reason, it is more and more the case, that before a house is sold, the owner first lets it. There are often good reasons for this, but it must be done carefully, and the exit strategy timed carefully.

First, be sure that the letting agreement includes a right for you to show potential purchasers around the house. This right will not be implied. Without it, you must get vacant possession first before you even put the house on the market.

There will be a gap between the tenant leaving, and completing the sale. The only guarantee that a tenant will have gone on any particular date, is that he has in fact gone. Time and time again, landlords find that the ever so pleasant tenant, becomes a terror when he finds the house is being sold from under him.

Assuming an assured shorthold tenancy, you must give two months notice to bring the tenancy to an end. If the tenant does not leave, you must commence proceedings. If all the documents are quite in order, you will be able to use an 'accelerated possession' procedure, where you will get a hearing (perhaps) within six weeks. Assuming you win an order for possession, the court will usually delay the possession itself for a further month. After that month you apply for a date for eviction from the bailiffs, who will fix an arrangement with the tenant perhaps another few weeks away. This assumes that everything goes smoothly, and that the courts are not unduly overloaded. You would be lucky therefore to obtain possession against a tenant unwilling to leave, for at least three or four months.

Tenancy agreements are often not correctly drafted, and the process can become rather longer and more expensive if great care is not taken.

Undoubtedly, we will always advise that the house must be vacant before you exchange contracts. At that point, completion can often be arranged to happen within a very few days. The suspense will be sustained until exchange, but quickly resolved afterwards.

Important: Please note that our law-bytes are retained for archival purposes only. The law changes, and these notes are often, now, out of date. You must take direct advice on your own personal situation and the law as it currently stands.
All information on this site is in general and summary form only. The content of any page on this site may be out of date and or incomplete, and you should not not rely directly upon it. Take direct professional legal advice which reflects your own particular situation.
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Copyright and Database Rights: David Swarbrick 2012
18 October 2013 253 18 October 2013