Don’t let tenants tangle your sale
With the demand for property still strong at the moment, a growing number of property owners believe the time is right to sell homes they have been renting out – but they should be aware that this can be difficult if they still have a tenant in place.
“Unfair as it may be, tenants generally have a reputation for not keeping homes in the best condition, and many potential buyers seeking a home for themselves will be reluctant to look at a property with a sitting tenant,” says Shaun Rademeyer, CEO of BetterBond, South Africa’s leading mortgage originator. “In many cases, even buy-to-let investors who might be interested in adding the property to their portfolio would prefer to find their own tenants.
“And incumbent tenants who do not want to move can create major problems for a seller. To start with, they may be difficult about giving an agent access to the property to show it to prospective buyers, or perhaps deliberately leave the home in a mess when they know the agent is coming round with potential buyers.”
He says tenants have also been known to try to block a sale by regaling potential buyers with every real or imagined fault in the property or the neighbourhood.
“In addition, property owners who have not made regular inspections may be in for a nasty shock when they decide it is time to sell because maintenance has been neglected, and expensive repairs are necessary before the property can be put on the market. And if pets or animals have been kept inside, the home will at the very least need thorough cleaning, and perhaps re-carpeting.”
There may, of course, be no problem where tenants have been carefully selected from the outset, says Rademeyer, and often if the property is to be sold, the best course is to first find out whether these sitting tenants might like to buy it themselves.
“But if that is not possible, it is generally better to give them reasonable notice and then prepare the empty property for sale, with the incentive for prospective buyers that it is ready for immediate occupation.”