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Selling a House With Tenants: A Basic Guide

Are you thinking of selling your rental property? Whether you want to look for a new property or you're tired of living the landlord life, there's a big difference between selling an occupied property versus a vacant one. 

Our East Tennessee home buyer answers your questions about selling a house with tenants here.

Can I Sell a House With Tenants?

Yes, you can sell property with tenants living in it. That said, you'll need to know what type of rental agreement you signed with your tenants. 

Here are a few options for selling, depending on your situation: 

Short-Term Rental Contract

A month-to-month rental agreement continues until it's broken by the landlord or tenant(s). In Tennessee, each party must give at least 30 days of notice before terminating the contract. 

In many cases, landlords can terminate short-term leases without cause. This also means you don't have to tell your tenant(s) about selling the property. Though, it may be helpful to keep them in the loop if you need their cooperation. For example, you might need them to vacate the property if you're having prospective buyers stop by to see it. 

Fixed-Term Lease

With a fixed-term lease, tenants are required to stick around for the time indicated in their contract. 

If the lease doesn't include an early termination clause, your tenants have the right to stay in the property until their contract has expired. This means as long as your tenant is following the rules of your agreement, you might have to wait until the lease expires to sell. 

Should I Sell My House While Tenants Live in It?

While you can legally sell your house while tenants are still living in it (as long as everything abides by their rental agreement), it doesn't mean you should. 

It's no secret that having a tenant-occupied home makes it more difficult to sell for a few reasons: 

  • Tenants have to leave for showings. It's best to make sure your tenants aren't home when prospective buyers are scheduled to tour the property. It can make buyers feel awkward and uneasy, and it's not the best situation for tenants to be in, either. 
  • Tenants might not keep everything tidy. If your property sits on the market and buyers are coming to look at it for days, or weeks, at a time, you have to hope your tenants are keeping everything clean. A buyer doesn't want to tour a house with dirty dishes piled in the sink, or piles of clothes on the floor. 
  • Transferring your tenant to the new owner isn't always easy. If you're thinking of keeping your tenants in place and selling the property to someone else who will be their landlord, there can be some complications. For example, maybe you're currently charging below market rate and the new buyer wants to raise the rent. 
  • Buyers don't always want to deal with it. When you have tenants in your home, and the new buyer is someone who will be living there after they purchase the property, everything is dictated by the terms of the lease agreement your tenant has. This might mean it takes two to three months longer to close, which some buyers might not want to work with. 

As the property owner, it's up to you to weigh the pros and cons of selling your house with a tenant. Are you okay with it taking longer to find a buyer? Or your home potentially selling for less? On the other hand, some buyers might like seeing a home filled with furniture rather than a house that's completely empty and un-staged. 

If you still want to move forward with selling your tenant-occupied home, here are a few tips. 

How to Sell a House With Tenants

Are you stuck in a situation where you want to sell, but your tenants aren't willing to leave? You're definitely not alone! Here are a few options for selling your tenant-occupied property. 

1. Pay Your Tenant(s) to Vacate

If a tenant is dragging their feet, consider paying them to leave. This may seem unreasonable, but if you need to sell your house fast, you might have to offer an incentive. 

So, how much should you pay? Find out what renters are charging in your area. If rent prices are similar or higher, offer to pay the difference of what's remaining on your tenant's lease. You could also offer to cover their moving costs or next security deposit. 

In this situation, communicating with your tenants is key. Tenants that won't leave for showings, or in general, can make for a difficult sale. If you have to offer a break on rent in exchange for their cooperation, do it! 

2. Sell to Your Tenant(s)

If you don't want to ask your tenant(s) to leave, see if they'd like to buy the property. While not always ideal, this may save you waiting months for your tenant's lease to end. 

On the off chance they can't get a mortgage, seller financing allows your tenant(s) to pay you in installments. Though, if they default on the loan, you could be facing foreclosure

3. Sell to a Home Buyer

Unfortunately, most buyers don't want to wait out your tenant's lease agreement. Real estate investors, on the other hand, might be willing to take a chance on your property. 

Home buying companies like Reliant Home Buyers of TN can make you a fair cash offer - while also honoring your tenant's existing lease. Plus, with this solution, you'll close when you want and receive cash for the house when all is said and done! 

We Want to Buy Your House in East Tennessee

Selling a house with tenants is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Fortunately, Reliant Home Buyers of TN will offer you solutions based on your needs! Whether you need to sell fast, or you'd prefer to sell your house without a realtor, we can help! 

Are you interested in a FREE, no-obligation offer for your property? Here are a few reasons to work with Reliant Home Buyers of TN

  • Skip the repairs - Don't waste your time on repairs or renovations - we want to buy your house as-is! Whether your property has termite damage or unpaid liens, our cash offers are based on the location and condition of your home. 
  • Keep it simple - Enjoy an easy sale with us! Give us a call, schedule a consultation, and consider your house sold. Selling to our experts is that easy! 
  • No obligation to sell - Having second thoughts? Just let us know! There's never any pressure to sign with us. 
  • Avoid fees and commissions - There are never any hidden fees or closing costs with us. Our owner Justin will answer your questions and be upfront and honest about your situation. 

Need to Sell a House With Tenants?

Selling a rental property is complicated, especially if you have tenants. That's why you should work with someone who can handle these types of sales. 

With nearly two decades of experience, we buy houses throughout the Greater Knoxville area, from Clinton to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Call 865-567-6391 for more information. 


Serving Knox, Blount, Loudon, Anderson, Roane, Sevier, Union, Jefferson, Hamblen, Cumberland, Monroe, and McMinn Counties.

Reliant Home Buyers Of TN, Real Estate, Knoxville, TN