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Do I have to rent to a specific person if we have a signed contract if I decide I need to sell instead?

Cleveland, TN |

After filing for divorce for particularly heinous reasons, my kids (4) and I wanted out of our family house. I put my house up for sale by owner and started looking. I got a contract of sale, but the buyer then became flaky, saying he wanted the property to flip and if he didn't have a buyer by our close date, then he couldn't go through with it, so as an alternative, I started looking for a renter. I found a renter, and because the buyer told me that he could not buy at close, renter and I signed a lease agreement for one year term with 8 months prepaid due to her poor credit. At the time did not have a house to go to yet, so we did not enter a start date on contract. Now the old buyer is wanting to proceed with purchase and I really want out of it. Am I bound to go through with it?

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Attorney answers 1


It's hard to answer this question without seeing the purchase contract you had with the buyer. Did it have a purchase date that has passed? Did buyer do anything to formally notify you of his intent not to purchase? If the closing date has passed, then the buyer can't simply opt back in.



My apologies - I was not specific enough. I mean that I want out of the rental contract to proceed with the sale. Yes, the original close date did pass, but I am certain that we will close now. Of course I will give the renter her money back and I have even offered to pay one month of her expenses while she finds an alternate. I have even provided alternate listings, explaining the situation to other landlords to see if we can get her something. I do not want to leave her in the lurch - she is living in a hotel with her daughter right now after moving out of her parents home to wait for my house. However, I must ultimately do what is best for my kids and I, and that is selling.

Ryan Adam Ballard

Ryan Adam Ballard


So what is the prospective renter's take on it? Is she willing to accept your offer to terminate the lease? Does the lease agreement provide for what happens if one party or the other wishes to terminate?



She is thinking about what she wants to do now. She obviously wanted the house and since she has spent money on a hotel while waiting, is understandably upset although I have told her why and she also understands that. The lease agreement does provide for either party terminating in that each may be liable for attorney fees and court costs. However, the agreement was only signed and because I was waiting until I found another home, did not have a commencement date entered - we were going to do that when I gave her keys.

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