I-TEAM: What to do if your rental property is sold during your lease

What to do if your rental property is sold during your lease
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 6:57 PM EDT
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(WFSB) - With college back in session, many upperclassmen are living off campus, in rental homes or apartments.

But what happens if the landlord sells the property during the period of the lease?

Chief Investigative Reporter Sam Smink gets important advice on what to do.

In order to have the perfect senior year at Quinnipiac, Will Herring and his three friends needed the right house.

They found one.

“It was a good-sized home, it had two living rooms, a nice kitchen, it was definitely great for what students need,” says Will Herring.

The four students each signed the lease and put down a deposit, $900 each. That’s $3600.

“It’s a good chunk of money,” says Herring.

About halfway through their school year, the house sold.

“We knew it was on the market and there wasn’t too much communication, we never got a new lease to sign,” says Herring.

They didn’t need to. That’s because by law, the existing lease transferred to the new owner.

The boys didn’t think anything of it, until they graduated.

“We didn’t expect that it would come to this kind of length, and we would have preferred it not to,” says Herring.

About thirty days after they moved out, Herring said the four asked the new current landlord for their deposit back.

What he said they got in return, was crickets.

“I had asked him about the security deposit once and I never got a response. I know another one of the renters had asked a few times and wasn’t really hearing back,” says Herring.

Even their parents got involved, it didn’t help.

“In our minds, we did everything we could to get our deposits back,” says Herring.

“Communications are key,” says Jeff Ferony with the CT Apartment Association, an advocacy group for apartment owners and manager. Ferony says as the tenant, make sure you are always communicating about your concerns.

He says while most landlords would keep you in the loop during a sale, it doesn’t always happen.

“I think once a tenant gets wind of a sale, they should be communicating with their current landlord about that process. And just confirm what’s going to happen to their security deposit, I think is always a good measure to take,” says Ferony.

Ferony says it’s best to get those conversations in writing.

As for signing a new lease with the new owner? He says it’s not necessary unless you want to.

“The bottom line is, the new landlord is responsible for returning that security deposit. There are state statutes that dictate that,” says Ferony.

And by law, landlords must return security deposit within thirty days of moving out, unless there are damages or money owed.

“If a landlord refuses to return, a new landlord refuses to return a security deposit, they can always take that landlord to court,” says Ferony.

Herring was considering court but didn’t have to go that far.

We called Herring’s landlord and left a voicemail, giving him an opportunity to respond. He never called us.

3 hours later, the landlord sent Herring and his roommates their money.

“Getting the money back was just a nice end to all of this. It really eased all of our concerns, it was a great moment,” says Herring.

RESOURCES TO HELP:

There are many legal agencies in CT that may be able to help if you find yourself in this situation.

United Way 211 Infoline provides various services and resources for residents. Learn more by visiting www.211ct.org or calling 211 or 1-800-203-1234.

Statewide Legal Services (SLS) provides free legal assistance to eligible renter households https://apply.slsct.org/ or 800-453-3320.

CTLawHelp. org can help CT residents with low income solve their legal problems: https://ctlawhelp.org/en/home