Sacramento, CA asked in Landlord - Tenant and Elder Law for California

Q: Can a tenant be asked to move after a property sale because owners moved to assisted living?

There are two houses on the property. My parents are in one and tenants in another with a three-year lease but a 5-year rent freeze (ends Nov 1). My mom was disabled, and then my dad was injured, which cascaded into living in a wheelchair with dementia. They had to be moved into assisted living because they lived too far out of town and now they need care. Now with $100K in extra debt, they have to sell the property to live. But the tenant won’t budge. We have a fantastic offer, but we will lose it. I will have to move him out anyway if I can’t sell the property ASAP because my parents are getting evicted for nonpayment at the assisted living. They can’t live with me and family or in their old house because it’s not ADA-compliant and can’t be made to be. I've offered $500/ per month ($4k) if he leaves before Nov, two months of rent, and 45 days for animal grazing and large machinery storage. I can't figure out what tenant protections apply. What do I do?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, tenants have certain rights under lease agreements, which are legally binding contracts between landlords and tenants. If your parents' tenants have a three-year lease, they are generally protected from eviction until that lease expires, barring violations of the lease terms. Additionally, the five-year rent freeze must be honored unless specific conditions allow for its termination or modification. However, there are situations, such as the sale of a property, where new owners can inherit existing tenants under their current lease terms.

Since your parents need to sell the property due to financial and health reasons, it's important to approach this situation with clear communication and legal guidance. If the tenant is unwilling to negotiate an early termination, you may need to consult with a real estate attorney to explore all legal options. Sometimes, legal provisions like the "Ellis Act" allow landlords to evict tenants if they intend to go out of the rental business, but this comes with its own set of requirements and limitations.

Your offer to the tenant seems generous and shows an effort to make the situation work for both parties. Keep negotiating in good faith, and document all interactions and offers made. If an agreement cannot be reached, a legal professional can provide guidance on next steps under California law and the specific terms of the lease agreement. Remember, the goal is to find a solution that minimizes stress for your parents while respecting the tenant's rights.

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