What is best to do if I’m the landlord of an out-of-state single family residence and my tenant has expressed an interest in purchasing the property from me?

I am the landlord of an out-of-state single family residence, and my tenant has expressed an interest in purchasing the property from me. We have reached a verbal agreement on the price and the tenant has been pre-approved thru a finance company for a mortgage that will meet our asking price. Can I work with the tenant’s finance company directly to complete the sale or do I need to have legal representation and/or participation from a realtor to close the transaction? We are attempting to complete this sale in the most amicable way possible but I also want to be sure I am protected.

Asked on June 2, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You *should* have legal representation: a lawyer does not have to make things adversarial, but provides a second set of objective, expert, knowledgeable eyes and hands to make sure any agreements are good ones and all the proper steps are done.

As for whether you *could* represent yourself if you wanted to and not have a laywer, as long as the matter does not end up in court, you do not legally need an attorney--you are allowed to go ahead without one.

For furture reference: as a landlord, if you do end up in court, if you personally own the property (including through a d/b/a or sole proprietorship), you do not need an attorney. But if the property is owned by or through a corporation or limited liability company (LLC), you must have an attorney. That's because a corporation or LLC is its own legal entity or "person"; a person can only represent himself (which a corporation or LLC cannot do, since while it is legally a person, it is not actually one) or be represented by a lawyer. No non-lawyer person--not even the corporation's or LLC's owner--can represent another person.


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