Rights of Tenants: Sale or Foreclosure of Building
What happens if my landlord sells my building?
The sale of your building may affect your rights.
If you do not have a written lease, your old tenancy will end. The new owner must let you stay for at least as long as you have paid for. You and your new landlord can make a new agreement. If your new landlord accepts rent from you, then you have a new tenancy.
If you have a lease, you probably have the right to stay until the end of your lease term. Read your lease to see if it says anything different. If your lease term is for more than 2 years, you should record your lease in your county Registry of Deeds before the sale, to help protect your lease rights. This rule also applies if you have a long term lease with no specific ending date.
Does the new landlord have to give me a notice to quit before evicting me?
Yes. Even if you are a tenant at will (no lease), your new landlord must give you a 30 day or a 7 day written notice, unless your old landlord already gave you the notice. (See Evictions.)
What if my building is in foreclosure?
From May 2009 through December 2014, a federal law gave additional protections to renters living in foreclosed buildings. But that law has ended. Maine law does offer tenants in foreclosed buildings some notice protections. If the bank - or lender - takes the building back from your landlord, it must notify you in writing about the change in ownership. But this notice is not required until the lender has gotten a final court judgment in the foreclosure case.
A typical foreclosure - from initial notice to final court judgment - can take several months, sometimes years. Your landlord is still responsible for the building and its tenants during the foreclosure process. He can also bring an eviction action, following all of the normal eviction rules. This means that your original landlord can bring an eviction until such time as the court grants a change in ownership through the foreclosure action. At that point in time, the bank assumes responsibilities for the building and its tenants - along with the power to evict. The bank is required to give tenants written notice of the court's foreclosure order. The notice can be mailed, served by sheriff, or posted at each entrance to the building. The bank can bring an eviction action in court 21 days (or more) after giving that notice. Typically, the bank then sells the building to a new owner, who would then become your landlord if you are still living in the building. Again, this new owner either:
- assumes your lease, if you have one,
- decides to keep you on as a tenant, with a new agreement (where no ongoing lease), or
- decides to evict you.
If the new landlord chooses the third option, again, he must follow all of the normal eviction rules.
Revised August 2010; partially updated September 2015