What are Tenant's Rights when a Landlord is Selling a House in Ontario?
Few moments in the tenant-landlord relationship are as prone to tension as when the property is being sold. Keep reading as we review a tenant’s rights when their landlord is selling the house in Ontario.
Tenant Rights When Their Landlord is Selling the House
Tenant rights (in all situations, not just this one) are protected by the Residential Tenancies Act. Here are some of the most important points to be aware of.
Tenants Can’t Be Kicked Out Due to the Property Sale
If you’re worried about getting evicted because your landlord is selling their house in Ontario, you can rest easy. The Residential Tenancies Act does not allow landlords to evict tenants solely because the property is being sold.
In fact, the new property owner will need to uphold any lease agreement that hasn’t expired prior to their taking possession of the home. Even if the new owner has no intention of extending the lease, they’ll need to provide the standard 60-day notice before kicking the tenant out.
This rule also applies to monthly rental agreements in Ontario; 60 days notice must be given, regardless of who owns the property.
Such notices do not amount to derogatory evictions, however, and will have no negative effect on a tenant’s record. Rather, think of them as an amicable end to the tenant-landlord relationship.
Keep in mind, however, that a tenant can be evicted if the landlord – in the process of inspecting and preparing the home for listing – discovers breaches of the lease agreement. For example, if a tenant has significantly damaged the property, legal action could arise against them.
Also, remember that the lease agreement works both ways. Tenants cannot break the agreement simply because they’re unhappy with the property’s new owner. Both parties have to stick it out or reach some other favourable agreement.
Landlords Can’t Trick Tenants Into Leaving
Per a tenant’s rights when their landlord is selling the house, they cannot be tricked into leaving. One common scenario would be a landlord getting the tenant to leave by falsely claiming they intend to move in. The motivation may be to evoke a more sympathetic response from the tenant than would arise if they knew the landlord’s true intentions of actually selling the place.
What some landlords don’t know is that, when issuing such an eviction notice (known as an N12), they actually need to occupy the property for at least one year.
If they do just about anything else with the property (including renting it to someone else, tearing it down, or selling it), they can be slapped with a $25,000 fine and ordered to pay damages to the tenant, per rules introduced in 2017.
Tenants Have Rights During Pre-Sale Renovations, Too
When a landlord is selling their house, tenant rights in Ontario require them to give sufficient notice if substantial renovations will be taking place.
Specifically, landlords need to issue an N13, which provides 120 days’ notice. When the landlord’s reason for issuing the notice is the form’s second option (substantial renovations that require the property to be vacated), tenants have a right to move back in once the work is completed unless some other notice is issued within the 120 days.
Remember, landlords can’t be deceptive about this. They can’t claim to be demolishing the home only to list it on the market once the tenant leaves.
Landlords Can’t Force the Tenant to Prepare the Home for Viewing
While landlords are well within their rights to expect that tenants will maintain a basic level of cleanliness, they can’t specifically demand the residence be staged for showing.
This is in keeping with the general principle that the sale process should have a minimal impact on a tenant’s ability to use and enjoy the home they’re paying to occupy.
Landlords Have to Give Notice Before Showings
When an Ontario landlord is selling their house, tenant rights require them to give ample notice of a showing. This means issuing a notice of entry 24 hours in advance. Check out this article to learn more about how the notice of entry works, including the range of hours landlords are allowed to enter.
Notably, the tenant does not have to vacate the property while it’s being shown. They’re well within their rights to stay as long as they don’t impede the showing process.
Landlords can still enter, however, even if the tenant isn’t present. The rules regarding 24-hour notice still apply, though.
Landlords also need to be reasonable when it comes to the number and scheduling of showings. Constant late-night property showings, for example, may present grounds for a complaint if the tenant believes the landlord is not being considerate with their scheduling.
Landlords Cannot Take Pictures Without a Tenant’s Consent
According to Slaw.com, landlords are not allowed to take pictures of their property while it’s being occupied. This is to protect tenants against the possibility of private, confidential belongings ending up online for the whole world to see.
Exceptions exist, however, if the tenant explicitly agrees (either by signing a lease agreement permitting photography or after the fact).
Landlords Have Rights, Too
While a tenant has considerable rights when the property they occupy is being sold, laws protect the landlord’s interests too. Here’s a rundown.
Landlords Can Sell Their Properties Anytime
A landlord can sell their property anytime, even without notifying the tenant (aside from any relevant entry or termination notices that arise as a result of the sale).
Keep in mind, however, that landlords are responsible for ensuring the new buyer agrees to take on any leases remaining on the property when it changes hands.
Landlords Can Show Their Properties Even When The Tenant is Absent
Tenants cannot insist that they be present when the landlord shows the property to prospective buyers. As long as the landlord provides the required 24-hour advance notice of entry, they can enter the property regardless of whether anyone is home.
Landlords can actually pursue legal action against tenants who refuse to cooperate with the proper notices since that would constitute a breach of contract.
What Rights Do Tenants Have When the House is Being Sold? Conclusion
When an Ontario landlord is selling their house, tenant rights must be strictly upheld. Tenants cannot be evicted to accommodate a sale if they still have an ongoing lease agreement, nor can landlords trick tenants into leaving under some other guise.
These and the other rules we discussed in this article exist to ensure tenants don’t have their rights trampled upon simply because their landlord made an independent decision to sell. Check also this guide for tenants breaking lease early in Ontario.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can my landlord evict me to sell the house?
Your landlord cannot evict you solely for the purpose of selling their home unless they provide ample notice. In some situations, they may also be required to relocate you or pay one month’s rent.
In any case, the law mandates that you be given ample notice before being evicted for any reason, including a change in the property’s ownership.
What happens when your landlord sells the property?
Landlords are responsible for ensuring the new buyer intends to honor whichever part of your lease agreement extends beyond the sale date. New owners do not have any special powers to evict you without proper notice.
Should I tell my tenants I am selling?
It’s considered courteous to inform your tenants when you sell the property although this is not legally required in Ontario. You can sell at any time without telling the tenant as long as you follow rules regarding passing their lease onto the new owner and informing them when you intend to show the home to a prospective buyer.