What is a sitting tenant?


Any property bought with a tenant in residence technically has a sitting tenant. However, most people consider a sitting tenant as a person who has security of tenure on the property.

Even if the property changes hands, the tenant retains the right to reside there. The tenant gained this right if they entered in to a tenancy before 1989 under the Rent Act 1977.

Visit our landlord pages to learn more about this area of law.

What rights does a sitting tenant have?

A sitting tenant has some rights to remain in the property and a right to pay ‘fair rent’. This is an old-fashioned form of rent that historically was set by local housing officers, rather than by the landlord themselves.

It is generally somewhat below the market value, sometimes by many thousands of pounds per year.  

What rights does the landlord have?

The landlord has a right to have the fair rent reviewed by the rent officer every two years, or when the property is greatly improved, for example if the house is renovated.

There are also some avenues to remove a sitting tenant. If you are a landlord with a sitting tenant, and you want them removed from your property, speak to a specialist in landlord and tenant litigation.

You can read more resolving these issues on our landlord and tenant disputes pages.

What about buying a property with a sitting tenant?

The freehold for a house with a sitting tenant will be worth much less than a house without a one and because of this a freehold can sometimes be a good investment.

If, for example, the tenant lives alone and is elderly or in ill health, then the tenancy should end on the death of the tenant and the market value of the property will dramatically rise.

If you are thinking of investing in property with a sitting tenant, you should get legal advice from a landlord and tenancy solicitor.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on sitting tenants, we can put you in touch with a local specialist landlord and tenancy solicitor free of charge. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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