Question: I want to sell my house with the current tenant still in occupation. He has an assured short-hold tenancy. Can I proceed with my plan? And will I have to lower the asking price?
Answer: Properties are usually sold with vacant possession — it is often stated in a contract for the sale of land that vacant possession will be given on completion. But it is possible to sell your property with your tenant in situ.
The contract should state the sale is subject to the tenancy, and a copy of the tenancy agreement should be attached. It's advisable for the contract also to state that the buyer, having been supplied with a copy of the tenancy agreement, is deemed to purchase with full knowledge of the tenancy.
It is up to your buyer's solicitor to investigate the terms of the tenancy and advise their client regarding security of tenure, whether there are rent arrears, whether rent is paid to you directly or to managing agents, and if there is a deposit protected under a tenancy deposit scheme.
On completion you should hand over to the buyer's solicitor the original assured shorthold tenancy agreement and an authority, signed by you and addressed to the tenant, requiring the tenant to pay future rent to the buyer. If the house is let furnished, you should have an inventory and it would be sensible to attach this to the contract as well.
A tenant does not necessarily reduce the value of a property. Indeed, the value may be enhanced if your property commands a good rent. Discuss this with a reputable estate agent.
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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a partner in the residential property, farms and estates team at Withy King LLP (withyking.co.uk).