2. My landlord has informed me that the property I am renting was sold recently. I was also told to pay rent to the new landlord on the next due date. Can I object? Will my interests under the "old" tenancy be protected?
The landlord, as the owner of the property, is entitled to sell the property. If there is a tenancy subsisting at the property, it is likely that the property will be sold subject to the tenancy. That is to say, the new owner will be aware of the tenancy and will expect to collect rent from the tenant. The agreement for sale and purchase made between the old owner and the new owner should also have specified that the new owner will inherit from the old owner all of the rights and liabilities under the tenancy. Therefore, a tenant’s rights and liabilities under the existing tenancy will generally remain unchanged in relation to the new owner.
However, the deposit paid by the tenant deserves particular attention. According to a judgment made by the Privy Council (the final appellant court for Hong Kong before 1 July 1997) in 1986, the covenant made by a landlord to return the deposit to a tenant is a personal promise, and is thus enforceable only against the landlord personally but not against the new owner. Therefore, unless there are some other arrangements or agreements, the new landlord may not become liable to the tenant in respect of the deposit paid to the old landlord. The tenant should make sure that a fresh deposit is paid to the new landlord after return of the same from the former landlord.