How This Investor Makes it a “Win” for Renters When Their Landlord Sells

One Northern California investor makes it a point to put renters’ needs first when buying the home they live in.

real estate investor Jake Knight

Landlords don’t always have it as easy when it comes to selling a home with leased tenants. If renters are on a month-to-month lease and cooperative, the homeowner will usually send a notice to vacate and list the home for sale once emptied. What about situations where the renters are not cooperative or the seller needs to sell during a lease period? Since many buyers want to move in after purchasing, they won’t even consider a home that has renters. This leaves the seller at a disadvantage.

Jake Knight, owner of Skye Homes, a Bay Area and Sacramento-based investment company, has come up with a creative solution that works for the seller and the renter yet doesn’t require an eviction.

Here’s how it works:

An offer to buy the home is made to the seller contingent upon a successful lease buyout. The seller introduces the buyer to the renters and the renters give input on how long they need to move out. The “cash for keys” buyout offer includes cash compensation as an incentive. The negotiation is done with the seller’s consent. If the negotiation is unsuccessful, there is no pressure on the renters to move out, and the seller has lost nothing but a short period of time while negotiations took place.

I like to ask renters: ‘If you were to move out early, how much time would you need and how much money would you need?’ If their lease is scheduled to end a few months later, for some people it’s very appealing to move slightly earlier and get extra money in their pocket. I usually wouldn’t approach someone who moved in recently and ask them if they want to move.”

In some cases, the renters are not paying rent or do not have established leases in place. Jake believes charging a nominal rent per month (which he usually credits back after they vacate), in addition to surplus “cash for keys” money, gives renters an incentive to vacate on time plus flexibility to find a new home without being under pressure. “They feel like they’ve gotten a good deal from someone who wasn’t pushy or greedy,” Jake added.

Short Term Leases & Seller Benefits

Jake notes that this approach works best on shorter term leases. “In the Bay Area, I like 5 months or less depending on the time of year. It may be worth it to time it up with a hot spring selling market, even if it’s slightly more expensive to hold a few more months.”

The benefits for the seller are more control over the timeline, help with tenant negotiation (if relations have soured or they’re just not comfortable doing it), and knowing that their leased renters are being taken care of.


Jake added: “As a business owner I’ve always believed that if you take care of your customers they will take care of you. It’s the same thing with buying real estate. Take care of your clients and they will take care of you.”

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. Always have a local eviction attorney review the situation and ensure you are compliant with local laws.

Picture of Jake Knight
Jake Knight

Jake Knight has been a residential real estate investor since 2016. He specializes in acquiring and renovating houses in the Bay Area, Sacramento, eventually expanding to over 15+ states. Jake’s prior experience in lending, going back to 2003, laid the foundation for solving complex real estate issues.

Drawing upon his background in assisting sellers with the task of transitioning from a home they have lived in for decades, Jake launched a “senior move management” business in 2021. This company provides valuable support to seniors during the process of packing, coordinating their moves, and downsizing as they transition into senior living communities.

In 2022, Jake expanded his services by becoming a licensed real estate agent in California, providing comprehensive solutions to his seller clients.

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On the other hand, there are some sellers who need a custom solution due to either the property’s condition or the seller’s personal situation, or a combination of the two.

When the property is in really bad shape, they’re likely going to sell to an investor, so it may make sense to save money on commissions and find their own investor.

Some examples of personal situations that we can help with are: hoarding, pre-foreclosure or other financial issues that require a fast home sale, house with non-paying tenants or squatters, severely delinquent property taxes, homeowners who want to rent back the home longer than normal, or sellers who value privacy and/or are embarrassed by their home.

If your seller lead meets these criteria, you should propose the idea of making an introduction to me. You can simply suggest to them that your partner or colleague buys houses and ask if they are interested in speaking with me. Remember, you are not performing real estate agent duties. See our disclaimer below. The main thing to keep in mind at this point is to qualify them as a good fit or not. I can help you with the documentation and process things.