Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in Washington

I am in need of some information regarding real estate, or more specifically tenant/landlord. We reside in Snohomish County, Washington State. We have lived in a single family residence for the past 6.5 years, and are on our third lease, the first two were for three years each, the current lease is for two years with 1.5 years remaining. We have kept up the home, and have even made improvements at our own expense, rent is paid on time, and has been for years.

Our landlord is currently out of work, and due to finances (and no doubt a favorable sellerís market) is looking to sell the property, he hinted at this a month ago by phone, and has requested access for a real estate agent in the next few days by text this afternoon. He says he has made note to the agent this is to be sold for investment purposes, but I cannot guarantee that will ultimately be the case.

I would like to have a few questions answered if possible:

1) Does the current owner have to provide me any sort of notice (written or otherwise) prior to placing the home on the market or engaging the services of a real estate agent/agency?

2) In the event the home is sold, what sort of protections do we have with our lease in place?

a. Is it automatically voided due to sale?

b. Does it carry over to the new owner in the event the new owner plans on keeping the home as an investment?

c. If the new owner is using the home as an investment property, can they compel us to change the terms of our lease?

3) If the new owner intends the property to be owner occupied, do we have claim to the property for the duration of our lease?

a. Can we be forced to move?

i. If so how long a notice would be required?

b. If the lease is enforceable is this something that the purchaser would have to entice us to break the lease?

i. If so is there a reasonable figure that we must adhere to or is that between the buyer and us, possibly through the closing of the property sale? i.e. they (current or new owner) buys us out of the lease allowing the new owner to occupy the home.

This is coming a bit out of the blue and as always is not a great time, as though there ever is a good time, your help is greatly appreciated.


Asked on 3/08/16, 8:51 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Amir John Showrai The Pacific Law Firm, PLLC

Dear John:

You've asked many good questions, which I will try to answer below. My numbered answers correspond to your numbered questions.

1) No notice is require that he is showing the home or listing it, except if he wants to let his real estate agent or prospective buyers in to see the home, in which case he has to give you normal notice, as if he were entering for an inspection.

2)(a) The lease is not automatically void due to the sale.

2)(b) The lease would carry over to the new owner, so long as he does not decide to occupy it.

2)(c) The new owner cannot compel you to change the terms of the lease if the new owner keeps the home as an investment (meaning she does not move into the home). She will be bound by the terms your current landlord signed onto.

3) No. If the new owner wants to occupy the home, they are entitled to do so. To that end, your lease is voidable.

3)(a) Yes.

3)(a)(i) You would get 20 days' notice at least.

3)(b) I am not sure I understand this question. If the lease is enforceable because the new owner decides not to move in, then the new owner assumes the same terms as the current owner and is bound by the terms of the lease.

3)(b)(i) You and the current or future owner are free to negotiate anything you like in terms of lease modifications. The bottom line is the new owner can void the lease if they so choose to, or they can offer to negotiate new terms, of if they don't move in, and you wish to remain, they are bound by the terms of the old lease.

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Answered on 3/10/16, 4:18 am

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