- Tenant in situ means a property is being sold with a current tenant in place, allowing immediate rental income without searching for tenants.
- There’s no difference between “sitting tenant” and “tenant in situ.” Both refer to the same situation.
- Buying such properties has pros like saving time on tenant search but also cons, including potential below-market rents and difficulties in getting a mortgage.
You may have come across a few property listings that stated that the property was being sold with a tenant in situ or a sitting tenant, and start wondering what on earth that meant. Or perhaps you’ve been wondering whether buying a property with tenants in situ is worth it? Are there any downsides you need to be aware of or whether you can even get a buy to let mortgage.
In this guide, we’re going to cover all of that and more as we explore what tenant in situ means and whether you should consider buying a property listed as such.
Tenant In Situ Meaning
Tenant in situ simply means that there is a tenant currently renting the property, so if you decide to purchase it, it will come with tenants in place. In other words, you’ll be buying a tenanted buy to let property that’s going to start cash flowing from day one. In most cases, the tenancy agreement will continue as it was before the sale with limited effect on the tenants.
There are many reasons why landlords/investors may decide to put their property up for sale with tenants in place but we’ll touch on that a little later in this article. Next, let’s dive into another common term you may have come across – sitting tenants.
What Is The Difference Between a Sitting Tenant and a Tenant In Situ?
There is no difference between a sitting tenant and a tenant in situ, they both refer to the exact same thing – there is a tenant currently renting the property.
However, you’ll often find that there is a negative connotation associated with the term ‘sitting tenants’ that isn’t there with the term ‘tenants in situ’. There isn’t an exact reason for this, but it’s likely because many property investors will only mention that term when discussing the negatives of property investing which may be why some people have attached negative associations to it. To clarify, there is nothing inherently bad about sitting tenants, as with most things in property investment, there are pros and cons to it.
Should You Buy a Property with Tenants In Situ?
That’s a tough question to answer because buying a property with tenants in situ has its benefits but there’s also an equal amount of drawbacks. So it’s more so a question of what you prioritise and what is your property investing strategy.
For example, one of the key benefits of buying with sitting tenants in place is obviously not having to find tenants – that’s a massive time saver (or if you use a lettings agent, it’s a massive money saver) because advertising, screening potential tenants and conducting viewings takes a whole lot of time, especially if you have strict criteria around the type of tenants you’re willing to take. Not to mention that you’re earning from day one, no need to wait until you find the perfect tenant to start making money from your buy to let.
However, as good as that sounds, it’s quite likely that the current tenants are paying below-the-market rent. You may be shocked to hear this but many landlords don’t raise their rents in line with inflation as a thank you to their tenants for taking good care of their property. Whilst this is great for the tenants, you are missing out on what could be a significant boost to your profits.
Right now you may be thinking that you’ll just increase the rent and you’ve solved the issue right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple – the tenants do not have to agree with your new tenancy agreement. They have every right to keep their current one until it comes to an end. So you may end up making sub-par profits for quite a while. That’s why it’s always important to look at the tenants themselves and the contract that is in place.
To give you a better idea of whether buying with a tenant in situ is for you or not, let’s look at its pros and cons.
Pros and Cons of Buying with a Tenant In Situ
- You do not have to find tenants – as we mentioned above, not having to find new tenants for the property is a massive time/money saver.
- Your property starts cash flowing from day one – There’s no need to wait until a new tenant moves in, you’re being paid rent from the very first month.
- Properties that are sold with a tenant in situ are usually cheaper – there are several reasons for this including less completion, the lack of available finance meaning that you will likely have to purchase with cash and also, these sorts of properties being harder to sell in general.
- There is no need for an immediate refurbishment – since there are tenants living in the property, they’re likely taking good care of it so no refurbishment is needed, it can wait until the tenants choose to move on.
- On the flip-side, they are harder to sell – for the same reasons why they’re often cheaper, they will be harder to sell if you decide to part ways with it (if there are tenants in situ) and you likely will have to accept a below the market offer.
- It’s harder to get a mortgage – mortgage lenders see properties with sitting tenants as higher risk than a void property, so you will likely have to purchase it using cash.
- The tenant may be the reason why the current owner is selling – they may be causing issues by refusing to move out or perhaps not paying their rent. It’s vital that you research the current tenants just like you would research the property.
Can You Get a Mortgage with Tenants In Situ?
In general, mortgage lenders will see properties will tenants in situ as riskier because of the additional complications that may arise. This can make getting a buy-to-let mortgage much harder but it’s not impossible – there will be a handful of brokers who offer specialist mortgages for these sorts of properties. However, they will want something from you for taking on that extra risk – often this will be a higher interest rate, a higher deposit or they will want you to have certain insurances in place.
Can You Evict a Tenant In Situ/Sitting Tenant?
You will have to wait until the tenancy agreement comes to an end before you can evict a sitting tenant. After that period is up, the exact eviction procedure will differ depending on the type of tenancy.
If the tenancy was an assured shorthold tenancy, you will have to issue a Section 21 notice (find more information about shorthold tenancies here). However, if they have been renting the property since before 1997, the tenancy agreement may be an assured or regulated one which gives the tenants more rights under the 1977 Rent Act. This would require a different eviction procedure – find more information about assured tenancies here.
Alternatively, instead of evicting your tenant when the agreement comes to an end, you can offer them a new contract with market rate rent – If they sign on, you would have managed to get your rents back in line with the market and your tenants will continue to take good care of your property. However, if the rent is too much for them, they won’t sign the new agreement and will instead find a new property. Either way, you can get your rental income up to current market rates.
Buying a property with tenants in situ/sitting tenants has an equal amount of benefits and drawbacks – whether you wish to do so depends on your priorities and whether you can offset the drawbacks. For example, if you’re willing to do more research into the tenants themselves – whether they were ever any trouble, whether they pay their rent on time etc, then buying with sitting tenants can be great as it reduces the amount of time you would have to spend on finding tenants and refurbishing the property. Another key benefit is that you start being paid rent from the very first month. Having said that, buying with tenants already in place is recommended for advanced investors/landlords due to the additional complexities involved.