Rental Q&A | Timeline to Sale
I’ve had a couple of people reach out this week from both sides of the apartment world - renters and landlords - about laws around selling a rental home and the timelines for notice.
Q: How much notice does the landlord need to give the tenant if a currently-rented apartment is going to be sold?
A: In the City Of Seattle, 90 days notice must be given if an owner intends to sell a rental property.
It doesn’t make a difference if the tenant is on a month-to-month lease or has time left on an existing year-long lease. The 90 days must coincide with the end of a rental period, which is commonly the end of a month. It’s possible for an owner to petition the city for a reduction of time to 60 days notice in the case of hardship, but this is rare. If an owner violates this law there can be heavy penalties: one recent example had an owner paying $17,000 in fines.
If you have a current lease and the owners are planning to sell the property before it ends, you have protections as well. In this case, the new owner will have to honor your lease until its end. There are also protections for tenants while the property is on the market.
If you do move out because of a 90-day notice to vacate for sale, keep an eye on the house. There are timelines and limitations by which the owner has to get the house on the market (30 days).
If a tenant qualifies as low income (qualification set by the city), the owner needs to file for a Tenant Relocation License and each low-income tenant must be awarded $3,658. This is paid 50% by the owner and 50% by the City of Seattle. More info here
If an owner decides to ratchet up the rent to force the tenant to move out, this can lead to an investigation by the city and more penalties awarded to the tenant. Municipal Code on this issue is available here
There are also laws for how quickly a landlord can increase rent in any given period. At this time, the guideline is 30 days notice for increases less than 10% of one month rent and 60 days if it’s an increase of more than 10%. If a tenant is on a current lease, the landlord cannot increase the rent until that lease is over.
For reference on this question and most others please start by reading the Seattle Landlord Tenant Laws Updated Aug 2017
Do you have a different issue that needs to be addressed? The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection has a great renters resource here
You can also check out the Tenants Union of Washington FAQ
The information in this blog is meant to be a resource for further individual investigation; this is not legal advice. If you are in a situation such as the one above please contact a real estate lawyer or the Tenants Union ASAP. I am happy to give you referrals to experts on your specific issue.