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What If My Apartment Building Gets a New Owner?

Maybe your building is being sold because the market is great. Or maybe your landlord decided to turn the property over to his kids, or maybe he or she passed away. Whenever an apartment building is sold or changes hands, tenants are right to be wary of what will happen next.

That answer could depend on your lease or applicable state landlord-tenant laws. Here are some possible concerns you should be aware of if your building gets a new owner.

The Law of the Lease

As with most rental conflicts, the answer to this question will probably be in your lease or rental agreement. As a general matter, you should be familiar with the terms of your lease before you sign it and you should always have a copy handy in cases like this.

For most month-to-month leases, a landlord may terminate the lease as long as he or she provides the required notice. Your lease should contain the standard termination requirements for both you and the current or future landlord.

It's possible your lease contains a clause for termination if the property changes hands. If so, this clause will determine whether and how your lease can be terminated. However, if your lease doesn't specifically address what happens if the property is transferred to a new owner and your lease term hasn't expired, neither the current nor any future landlord can terminate the lease or change any conditions (like the amount of rent) without your consent.

The Law of the Land

While your lease will normally determine what happens if your apartment building is sold or transferred, local or state laws might have something else to say on the matter. If your rental unit is rent-controlled, you can't be evicted or have your rent raised just because the unit changes hands. If it is sold and is going to convert to condos though or the owner is going to move in (i.e., in San Francisco), that might be another matter.

In general, nothing should change if your building gets a new owner, but you should check the terms of your lease first and then local landlord-tenant laws to be sure.

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