When landlords purchase or sell a property, they have many things on their mind and a long list of items that must be completed prior to and shortly after the closing.

One item that should be a top priority for any new property owner is ensuring the previous owner sent out a rent authority letter to all tenants notifying them that the property has changed hands. It is best to coordinate sending this letter along with a change of ownership letter from the new owner to inform tenants of the new landlord’s address, contact information and any new rent payment details.

Laws may vary by state

Most of the landlord-tenant laws for commercial and residential property are state statutory and common law. A number of states mandate that the tenants receive written notice within ten days of the change of ownership. New owners are still bound by the old leases signed under the previous owners, including many special provisions or discounts to individual tenants.

Most states require that landlords disclose to tenants in writing the person or persons authorized to receive payments, manage the property, and be contacted in the event of any problems or emergencies. Be sure you know the laws that apply to any property you own or plan to purchase to ensure you include all required information in your change of ownership letter.

It is always best to have a paper trail

If there is some uncertainty about the agreements tenants have with the previous landlord, be sure to ask for clarification and copies of the written agreements.

Be clear, cordial and assertive with all of your written correspondence. Before sending your letter, read it aloud and think of how you would feel if you were the recipient of such a letter. It is best not to make references to the previous property owners. If there were problems between the old landlord and tenants, it is not your place to judge or take sides. Send the same letter to all tenants. Keep a copy of the change of ownership letter and record when it was sent.

For your protection and a positive relationship with tenants

Uncertainty, confusion, and misunderstandings all lead to discomfort, fear, and mistrust. These are the roots of legal disputes between tenants and landlords. You want tenants to be comfortable and feel good about what is going on with your property.

Remember that this is your business, but it is their home. A change of ownership letter will help maintain positive communications and provide a convenient way for them to engage with you or the people you have managing your property.

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Theresa Bradley-Banta writes about investing in real estate while avoiding the pitfalls that plague many new investors. She is a 2017 PropTech Top 100 Influencer and winner of 14 American and International real estate awards for her website and real estate investing programs. As featured on: The Equifax Finance Blog, AOL’s Daily Finance, Scotsman Guide, The Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show, Stevie Awards Blog, Rental Housing Journal, and Investors Beat among others.

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