Now What? Surviving An Unexpected Apartment Sale

Now What? Surviving An Unexpected Apartment Sale

“Do I have to move again?” I was recently asked that question by a tenant who signed a one-year lease three months ago only to find out that her landlady had just put her rental apartment up for sale.

The answer, the tenant was happy to find out, was probably not. While you always have to read your lease to see specifically what it says, usually a lease is written so that it survives the sale of the property.

There are always other issues that come up, though, so consider these dos and don’ts:

DO sit down with your landlady (or your landlady’s realtor) and outline a list of general procedures: how you’re going to be notified of a showing, what condition you should leave the place in, and what rules the realtor and visitors should follow. (For example, asking guests to take off their shoes or not let your dog out is totally reasonable.)

DON’T deny access to the apartment at all times. It’s probably in your lease that you need to allow the landlady or her agent access, so this is a fight that you’re going to lose.

DO indicate that some times are better than others. Limiting showings to a couple of days a week, with an occasional weekend thrown in, is perfectly reasonable. You might say, “I work at a magazine that publishes on Fridays, so I’d rather you limit showings to Mondays and Tuesdays, when I can have the apartment looking its best.”

DON’T leave everything a complete mess. Chances are that you’ll want a letter of recommendation from this landlady for your next apartment, or if you buy a co-op.

DO be willing to bargain good behavior on your part to score little extras from the agent. For example: “I can leave the place clean, but if you want to put out flowers, you’ll have to do that,” or, “It might make sense for you to bring in a cleaning lady to really scrub the place, and I can keep it tidy from there.”

DON’T leave your jewelry or other important items lying around. The agent should be with the customers at all times, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. When you tidy up, put the valuables away.

DO offer to be bought out completely. You may not hit the jackpot the way rent-stabilized tenants can – there was a big story on this theme of buyouts in the New York Times recently – but your willingness to cooperate is worth some money. Try something like, “I realize that your buyer might want to move in themselves, but for me to leave early and move again would be really expensive. Can we talk about a number that works for both of us?”

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