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By Andrew Parker

Managing Director and Auctioneer, SDL Property Auctions


Tenants-in-situ? Not an issue for selling by auction

Regardless of whether you’re looking to sell your property by auction or on the open market, there are primarily two ways in which you can sell: tenanted and vacant.

It’s no surprise that the most common method of selling is vacant, but that doesn’t have to mean that selling a property with tenants in place is unheard of. In fact, it can be an attractive choice for both landlords looking to sell their property as well as those looking to add to their rental portfolio.

Selling a tenanted property can be slightly more complex than a vacant sale as there are additional rules to follow to ensure the process is as straightforward as possible for all parties – so we’ve compiled this helpful guide to help you achieve a stress-free sale.


Whether you’re in the process of selling a tenanted property or still considering whether or not to do so, it’s only right that you understand the advantages and disadvantages of doing so.

Starting with the positives, it can be a more attractive opportunity for buyers – especially those looking specifically to add to their property portfolios. Tenanted properties present for the new buyer to gain instant rental income, and don’t necessarily need to spend additional money to make sure it’s ready for new tenants – as they’re already there! It benefits the seller too as there will be no loss of earnings during the sale.

There’s also the appeal of good tenants. Every landlord’s dream is to find a great, low-maintenance tenant to rent their property – and if your buy-to-let property has a great tenant-in-situ then you’re more likely to sell it quickly, as other landlords look to secure both the property itself and the tenant.

Naturally, there are also some less appealing things to consider – for example, capital gains tax. If you achieve a higher sales price (as a result of the attractiveness of the sale!) you could end up with a higher tax bill at the end. As with any sale of an investment property however, if you’ve made capital improvements to the home during your ownership then you will be able to offset some of the tax liabilities.

Arranging viewings of the property could be slightly more complicated too, seeing as landlords cannot enter the property without a tenant’s permission without at least 24 hours’ notice – except in the case of an emergency. Viewings should be pre-approved by the tenant and should respect the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of their residence. Acting in a fair and reasonable manner in respect of this will go a long way to avoiding any potential complications. You could consider block viewings on one particular day to help tenants plan their time, or perhaps offering a virtual viewing instead.

Finally, while it may be a landlord’s dream to have good tenants, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Understandably, tenants may not react positively to the news that their landlord is selling the property they currently call home – fortunately, these situations can usually be diffused by having an open and honest conversation with the tenant to diffuse any worries they may have and offer your reassurances.

There are also additional things to consider – in selling a buy-to-let property, you are effectively making the new owner the landlord and therefore they will need to follow all the legal requirements of being one. They will therefore need to be provided with all the documentation you collected at the beginning of the tenancy which could include a furniture/property inventory, rental deposit (as well as evidence that it sits in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme), right to rent evidence, signed tenancy agreement, safety certificates, legal notices and repairs information. These would all be included in the legal pack before a sale by auction, so it’s best to have this prepared in advance if you’re looking at that as an option to sell.

As with every property sale, there are positives and negatives to consider before making your final decision. Clearly, however, selling a tenanted property isn’t the end of the world – in fact, in some cases, it’s far from it.

*Andrew Parker is the Managing Director & Auctioneer of SDL Property Auctions


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