Selling a house with tenants in Massachusetts presents unique challenges and opportunities. Understanding the process is crucial whether you’re an investor or a homeowner.

My guide will walk you through legal requirements, notification timelines, and the step-by-step process for selling a tenant-occupied property. I will also offer tips for maintaining good tenant relations, explore the pros and cons, and discuss potential buyer types and lease considerations.

In cover in-depth the following information:

  • Legal requirements and notification timelines for selling a tenant-occupied property.
  • Tips for maintaining good tenant relations during the sale process.
  • The pros and cons of selling a property with tenants in place.

As a Massachusetts Realtor for almost forty years, I can tell you that selling a home with tenants is far more challenging than a vacant property. Unfortunately, even when landlords think their renters will cooperate, that is often untrue. In many instances, the renters don’t want to leave. It is understandable as their life is being disrupted.

If time allows you to sell without tenants, do it. The home sale process will go far more smoothly, which could be the difference between selling for more money.

Selling at the best time is also wise to maximize profits.

Let’s examine everything you should know.

Selling a Home With Tenants

Tips on How to Sell a Home With Renters in Place.

Legal Requirements and Notification Timelines in Massachusetts

Know Your Local Laws

Different states and municipalities have various laws and regulations regarding tenant rights during a property sale. Understanding these local laws is crucial to avoid legal complications.

These laws can dictate everything from the notice period required to how and when you can show the property to potential buyers.

For example, in some states, tenants may have a right of first refusal, meaning they must be allowed to purchase the property before it is offered to outside buyers.

This is not the case in Massachusetts. Consult a real estate attorney or local housing authority to familiarize yourself with these regulations.

Provide Proper Notice

Proper notification is a legal requirement in most places when you sell a house with tenants. However, the notice period you must provide tenants before selling the property can vary significantly.

In Massachusetts, a 30-day notice is required. This is essential to know because, in other states, it may require 60 or even 90 days.

Your Massachusetts lease will spell out your legal requirements for giving the renters notice.

The notice should include the intended sale date and any changes that might affect the tenants, such as new ownership or management.

Written notice is usually required and should be delivered in a manner consistent with local laws, including personal delivery, certified mail, or posting the notice at the property.

Respect Lease Agreements

You must honor all existing Massachusetts lease agreements until they naturally expire. If a tenant has a lease for another year, the new owner must respect it unless they negotiate a buyout or other arrangement with the tenant.

Understanding the terms of each lease, including renewal options and termination clauses, is essential. Violating these agreements can lead to legal challenges and potential financial penalties.

The new owner must follow the existing lease if they close on the property before its expiration.

Step-by-Step Process for Selling a Tenant-Occupied Property in Massachusetts

1. Evaluate Your Lease Agreements

Start by thoroughly reviewing all lease agreements for your property. This evaluation will help you understand your and your tenants’ rights and obligations.

Look for specific clauses that detail the notice period required for entry, conditions under which the lease can be terminated, and any penalties for breaking the lease early. Understanding these details will help you plan the sale process more effectively.

2. Communicate with Your Tenants

From experience, effective communication is critical to maintaining good tenant relations and ensuring a smooth sale process. Inform your tenants of your intention to sell the property immediately. Be transparent about the reasons for the sale and how it might affect them.

Providing transparent and honest information can help alleviate tenant concerns and encourage cooperation during the sale process. Nobody wants to find out secondhand that their rental home will be sold.

3. Prepare the Property

It must be well-presented to maximize the property’s appeal to potential buyers. This can be challenging with tenants in place, but it’s crucial.

While you may not be able to stage the home like in a traditional sale, it can still be made presentable. Selling a home in poor condition is never wise if it can be avoided.

Coordinate with your tenants to ensure the property is clean and tidy for showings. You might need to arrange for professional cleaning or maintenance work.

Set a schedule that minimizes disruption to your tenants’ daily lives while keeping the property in top condition.

4. List the Property

When listing a tenant-occupied property in Massachusetts, highlight its potential as an investment. Mention any positive aspects of the current tenancy, such as long-term leases, responsible tenants, and steady rental income.

Use high-quality photos and, if possible, virtual tours to attract buyers. Emphasize the property’s features and benefits for investors and potential owner-occupants.

5. Show the Property

Scheduling showings can be tricky with tenants. To respect their privacy and convenience, provide ample notice before each showing, typically at least 24 in advance.

Work around their schedules as much as possible. You might also consider grouping showings into specific time slots to minimize disruptions. Ensure the tenants understand the importance of keeping the property presentable during this period.

I would emphasize to the renters that the quicker the home sells, the easier it will be for them to resume their everyday lifestyle.

6. Negotiate Offers

When negotiating offers, consider those that acknowledge and accommodate the existing tenants. Some buyers may prefer an occupied property, especially if the tenants have a good payment history and are likely to continue their lease.

Be open about the terms of the current leases and the tenants’ history. This transparency can help build trust with potential buyers and facilitate smoother negotiations.

7. Close the Sale

Finalizing the sale involves transferring ownership and settling all legal and financial matters. The transition should be smooth for both the new owner and the tenants.

You can follow my closing checklist to ensure a smooth close.

Inform tenants about the sale’s completion and introduce them to the new owner. Provide the new owner with all relevant tenant information, including lease agreements, contact details, and any outstanding maintenance issues.

Tips for Maintaining Good Tenant Relations

  • Communicate Transparently: Keep tenants informed about the selling process and timelines. Transparency builds trust and reduces anxiety.
  • Offer Incentives: Provide financial incentives for cooperation, like reduced rent or moving assistance. This can encourage tenants to keep the property in good condition and cooperate with showings. I have been involved in several rentals where I advised the owners to give the tenants incentives. It was always helpful to accomplish the goal.
  • Be Respectful: Schedule showings and home inspections at convenient times for tenants. Please respect their privacy and personal schedules to maintain goodwill.

Pros and Cons of Selling with Tenants in Place

Upsides and Downsides of Selling Tenant Occupied Homes

The Upsides and Downsides of Selling Tenant-Occupied Homes.


  • Immediate Rental Income: Attract investors seeking instant cash flow. A property with established tenants provides immediate income without needing new tenants.
  • Established Tenants: New owners won’t need to find new tenants, which saves time and effort. Reliable, long-term tenants can be a significant selling point.
  • Market Appeal: Highlight a property‚Äôs rental potential. A history of consistent rental income can make the property more attractive to investors.


From experience, I can tell you there are far more downsides to selling a property with tenants than without them. These things below can cause your home to sell for less or not sell at all.

  • Limited Showings: Tenant schedules can restrict showing times, making it harder to show the property to potential buyers.
  • Potential Disruption: Tenants may not maintain the property as well as desired. This can affect the property’s presentation and appeal.
  • Lease Obligations: Buyers must honor existing leases, which might not align with their plans for the property. This can limit the pool of potential buyers.

Potential Buyer Types and What They Look For


Investors look for properties with reliable rental income and potential for appreciation. Highlight the tenant’s payment history, lease terms, and recent property improvements.

Investors will be interested in the financial stability of the rental income and the long-term viability of the property as a rental. Renters who pay the rent on time are always a plus.


Some buyers might plan to live in the property. They will be interested in lease expiration dates and tenant plans. If the buyer intends to occupy the property, they need to know when they can move in and what arrangements must be made with the tenants.

Considerations for Lease Agreements and Termination Clauses

  • Fixed-Term Leases: Tenants stay until the lease ends unless mutually agreed otherwise. This provides stability but can limit potential buyers’ flexibility.
  • Month-to-Month Leases: Tenancy at-will agreements are more straightforward to terminate with proper notice, typically 30 days. This offers more flexibility for potential buyers who want to occupy the property.
  • Termination Clauses: Some leases may include clauses allowing sale-related termination. Check local laws to ensure these clauses are enforceable. Including these clauses in future leases can provide flexibility in case of a sale.

Incentives for Tenant Cooperation

  • Rent Discounts: When you sell a house with renters, offering reduced rent during the selling process can be helpful. This can encourage tenants to keep the property in good condition and cooperate with showings.
  • Relocation Assistance: Provide funds or services to help tenants find new housing if they need to move. This can ease the transition and minimize disruption for tenants.
  • Flexible Showing Schedules: Workaround tenant availability to minimize disruption. Respecting their schedules can help maintain good relations and encourage cooperation.

Katie Paterson of Berkshire Hathaway in Park City says this:

“Incentives such as reduced rent or covering relocation expenses can significantly encourage tenant cooperation during property showings. By offering these incentives, landlords can foster a positive relationship with their tenants, ensuring smoother access for potential buyers and maintaining the property’s appeal throughout the selling process.”


Selling a house with tenants requires careful planning and considering legal, logistical, and relational factors. You can navigate this process smoothly by understanding local laws, maintaining good tenant relations, and effectively marketing the property.