How to Sell a Home with a Tenant Inside in Portland, Oregon

how to sell home with tenant

Updated Feb. 2023

Selling a tenant occupied home has never been trickier. A landlord must be aware of constantly changing local regulations, whether it be state, county, or city and at the same time keep an eye on federal regulations. All of the above governmental agencies can override any existing lease between the homeowner and tenant.

Vacant Homes Sell 100% Faster and for More Money

In the Portland real estate market, tenant occupied homes hardly sell at all. We’ve been writing an annual report on this for years. In 2020, nearly 1 out of 2 tenant occupied homes that went on the public market for sale, never sold. They simply failed to sell at all. These homes sat on the market for months in one of the hottest real estate markets we have ever seen, then at some point the homeowners simply gave up and took their properties off the market. This in comparison with vacant homes, where only 17% failed to sell in 2020. The same story was true in 2021 and 2022. In our latest 2022 report on selling tenant occupied homes only 56% managed to sell that went on the public market.

How Tenant Occupied Homes Sell vs Vacant Homes

Tenant occupied homes in Portland in a 2021 report:

  • Average time on market to pending: 60 days
  • Ratio of Sold to Cancelled: 52 Sold and 43 Cancelled, or 46% failed to sell.

Vacant homes

  • Average time on market to pending: 28 days
  • Ratio of Sold to Cancelled: 788 Sold and 145 Cancelled, or only 13% failed to sell.

Nearly Half of all Tenant Occupied Homes will Not Sell

2020 to early 2022 was a historically hot sellers real estate market in Portland. Licensed since 2003, I can only think of two other times where the housing market in Portland favored sellers this much. Incredibly, even in a historically low inventory market, once again, about half of all tenant occupied homes that go on the public market will not sell.

This Research Article is not for Multi-family Property

Plexes, apartment buildings, and any multi-family residential buildings sell better tenant occupied than vacant. The buyer pool is not the same and is almost exclusively made up of investors, not home buyers looking to occupy their next property.

Don’t Expect the Tenant to Allow Showings

Tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment of the place they are renting. 24 hours notice isn’t enough to ensure compliance with property showings. Best practice is to get written permission from your tenant for showings, or don’t allow buyer showings at all, make all offers subject to interior inspection.

Can you Evict the Tenant Prior to Selling a Home?

The most informational site I’ve found is from the Community Alliance of Tenants. The link here will take you to the correct page on their site. Their site is easy to navigate and is well written. There are very few allowable reasons to evict a tenant in good standing in Oregon. Selling the home is not a valid reason on its own. You have the right to sell the property, but in Oregon you often don’t have the right to break the tenant’s lease.

Mandatory Portland Relocation Assistance

Often the homeowner will offer the tenant, “cash for keys,” or a sum of money to vacate the property so they can sell it vacant. Keep in mind that the amount offered needs to be as much or more than the already mandatory relocation assistance within the city of Portland jurisdiction. Not sure if your home is under the city of Portland jurisdiction? Simply type your address in at

During a Home Sale the Tenant Goes with the Home

The lease needs to be passed on to the new owner and the new owner must assume landlord responsibilities. Consult a local real estate attorney that focuses on landlord tenant law if you have any questions.

We’re ready to help you sell a home in any situation.

Though you might not be able to sell in the best time of year, or you might not be able to vacate the property before the sale, we are experienced and ready to help you sell your property in any situation. Our goal is to ensure your best possible success, helping you obtain the highest price for your property with the least amount of hassle.

Our top 1% sellers agents charge less commission than the local average, we pay more to advertise our clients’ homes online, and all of contracts are cancel anytime for no charge. Our small team has sold over 2,000 homes in the Portland metro area and has a depth of experience in dealing with residential investment properties. Give us a call today at 503-714-1111 or chat with the bot on this site. We look forward to connecting with you!

The below is a historic part of this article that has now passed. But it is good to be aware of what could happen in the future between homeowners and tenants in the event of another national emergency.

Selling a Home with a National Eviction Mandatorium in Place

Right now we are still in a Federal national eviction mandatory that lasts until June 30th, 2021, and could be extended further. In effect, no homeowner in all 50 states can simply let their contract with the tenant expire or remove a tenant for issues like non-payment. If a homeowner evicts a tenant under Federal protections (and most are) they could face criminal charges. Tenants do have to qualify for the protection, but in reading the guidelines, the vast majority of renters in the U.S. will be covered.

So simply put, if you are a homeowner and want to or need to sell a home with a tenant inside, you cannot evict the tenant in order to put the home on the market vacant. The tenant can volunteer to leave and the homeowner can entice the tenant to leave by offering them money, but the tenant does not have to vacate. The tenant can only choose to do so of their own free will. Unfortunately, if the tenant will not leave, the research is clear that the home will sell for less money and will take much longer to sell – if it manages to sell at all.

April 14, 2021

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

4% max to sell a home in Portland and SW Washington.
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