Q: My partner and I live together in his house. He wants to leave the house to his children but gave me a lease agreement that allows me to continue living here if he passes away. If this happens, can his children sell the property and break the lease? - Kelly
A: Property ownership is sometimes called a bundle of rights.
When someone rents out their property, they agree to give the tenant a part of that bundle for a specific period. In return for rent payments, the landlord transfers some of the property rights to the tenant, the most important of which is the right to possession.
This means that for the agreed time, the tenant may live in the home instead of the landlord, or in your case, with him.
The property owner will keep most of the rights, including the right to sell, or "alienate," the property.
However, since the tenant can already use the property for the remainder of their lease, this right cannot be sold to the new owner and remains with the tenant until the lease ends. The tenant will need to pay rent to the new owner, but otherwise, the lease agreement will remain the same.
In your situation, even if the children sell the home, they would have to do so subject to your lease. You could remain in the property and pay the same rent, as you did before the home was sold.
Your partner is trying to make sure his children get his house, but he is also trying to make sure you can continue to live there for some time after his demise. The method you are describing may not be the best way to accomplish both of your goals.
It would help if you both spoke with an estate planning professional to arrange the best method to make this works out the way you both want.___
ABOUT THE WRITER
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.
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