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


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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.