Can a person rent out their house when it is in contract for purchase?

UPDATED: May 26, 2009

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Can a person rent out their house when it is in contract for purchase?

My husband and I are in contract to purchase a home in Maine with the contingency that our home sell first. I just found out that they are renting the home out. Is this legal? I’m a little worried about damage done to the home from renters. Can I get out of the contract and have my earnest money returned without any penalties?Thank you.

Asked on May 26, 2009 under Real Estate Law, New York


S.J.H., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

Unless the contract of sale states that the house must stay vacant until closing, This is completely appropriate by the Sellers. Any contract of sale provides that the premises be vacant and broom clean at the time of the closing of the transaction and in the condition that it was in at the time of the contract unless specific repairs were required to be made by the Sellers.

Therefore, until such time as the closing takes place, the Sellers can do with the house as they wish. Once the closing date is set, you will have a right to inspect the premises prior to closing to ensure that the tenants are out and the consition of the premises is as you saw when contracted to.

If at the time of the closing, the tenants still remain or if damages exist, then your remedies may be to reduce the price to account of these issues or possibly, depending on Maine Law, back out of the deal.

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 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.

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