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Rent-Back Agreements: Pros And Cons For Buyers And Sellers

April 21, 2024 6-minute read

Author: Miranda Crace


If sellers need time to move out or find a place to live after they sell their home, they may be able to buy some more time through a rent-back agreement. The buyer allows the seller to pay rent and stay in the home as they prepare to move.

Whether you’re buying or selling, rent-back agreements can be a win-win for both parties. This rental arrangement can bridge a gap in a seller’s moving timeline and generate extra income for the buyer.

What Is A Rent-Back Agreement?

A rent-back agreement is a temporary lease agreement between a home seller and home buyer that allows the home seller to rent the property from the buyer after the closing date.

Sometimes called a “sale and rent back,” “sale-leaseback” or a “post-settlement occupancy agreement,” a rent-back agreement is usually a short-term deal often used when a seller encounters a delay in finding or moving into a new home.

Under certain market conditions or unique situations, some agreements can extend for weeks or months, such as:

  • Example 1: You’re building a new home, and your contractor informs you that they’re experiencing a labor shortage and don’t have enough workers to finish construction on time. Because of the construction delay, you would likely need more time at your property.
  • Example 2: You have several school-aged children, and you want them to finish out the year at their school. A rent-back agreement can give you the extra time to keep them in their current school until you move.
  • Example 3: You’ve received an offer on your home but haven’t made time to work with a real estate agent and find a new home to purchase. A rent-back agreement can give you extra time to find a new place to live.

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How Does A Rent-Back Agreement Work?

Buyers shouldn’t let sellers remain in the home without a formal agreement. The agreement should spell out the terms and conditions of the seller’s occupancy and protect both the buyer and the seller.

The buyer and seller may draw up a rent-back agreement using the following process:

Consult With An Attorney And Notify The Lender

A real estate attorney can assist both parties with any issues that may come up during the leaseback period, such as establishing who pays insurance. An attorney will mention other necessary precautions to protect everyone involved.

Lenders typically approve short rent-backs. However, anything longer than 60 days may conflict with loan terms. For example, loans often require the property to be owner-occupied by a specific date.

Both Parties Sign The Rent-Back Agreement

A rent-back agreement is a legally binding document that outlines the key details of the arrangement.

To land on a fair rental amount, buyers and sellers can check out comparable homes for rent in the area. If a seller only needs to stay in the home for a few extra days, consider dividing the market rate by 30 to arrive at a daily rate.

A standard rent-back agreement will likely include guidelines and provisions on the following:

  • Rental rate: A rent-back agreement should establish the daily or monthly rent the buyer will charge the former owner.
  • Security deposit: The agreement should cover the security deposit amount and determine whether the security deposit will be held in escrow or released to the buyer.
  • Agreement length: The rent-back agreement should specify the rental period during which the seller can live in the house after closing.
  • Utility payments: Either the buyer or seller will pay for The rent-back agreement must identify who will be responsible for paying for them.
  • Home maintenance: Who pays for the repair if the front door gets damaged or there is other damage in the home? The rent-back agreement should state what happens when there’s property damage.
  • Insurance coverage or fees: The buyer will likely have homeowners insurance by closing, but the seller should maintain coverage for their personal property.

Use A Seller In Possession (SIP) Form

You can use a seller in possession (SIP) form instead of a traditional rental agreement for rent-backs that last 30 days or less.

The SIP form addresses similar provisions found in a standard rent-back agreement. It outlines details such as the rental rate, the security deposit, the agreement length and utility and home maintenance responsibilities.

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Is A Real Estate Rent-Back Agreement A Good Idea?

A rent-back agreement offers distinct advantages to buyers and sellers. Consider your unique circumstances before deciding whether a rent-back is right for you.

Here are some benefits of rent-back agreements:

Rent-Back Benefits For Sellers

Rent-back agreements offer sellers several advantages, including:

  • You have more time to find your dream home. A rent-back agreement will give you more time to look for a new home.
  • You can avoid moving more than necessary. You can avoid living somewhere temporarily or the expense of renting a storage unit for your
  • You can avoid or minimize stress. Since you won’t have to move immediately after selling your house, you’ll save yourself the stress of rushing through the process.

Rent-Back Benefits For Buyers

A home buyer can also benefit from a rent-back agreement, including:

  • You earn rental income at the current market rate. The extra income can help offset your mortgage payments, some closing costs, appraisal fees or attorney fees.
  • You can make your purchase offer more attractive. If you know the seller needs somewhere to live for a few weeks after closing, you can offer to let them stay in the home. A rent-back agreement may make the offer on the home more attractive to the seller.

In hot real estate markets, you must make an appealing offer. But a rent-back agreement isn’t the only way to sweeten the deal for a seller. Don’t overlook the allure of showing a seller you have strong financial backing.

When you apply for a loan with Rocket Mortgage®, you can catch a seller’s attention by demonstrating that your finances have undergone a higher level of financial scrutiny with a Verified Approval1.

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Is A Rent-Back Agreement Risky?

A rent-back agreement has some potential drawbacks for buyers and sellers. Here are a few risks to consider before entering into a rent-back agreement:

Rent-Back Risks For Sellers

The risks of rent-back agreements for sellers mostly center around being tenants in their former homes. A seller’s risk can include:

  • Your rent may cost more than your mortgage. You may pay more monthly rent than you did for your monthly mortgage payment.
  • You won’t be able to make permanent changes. Sellers can’t make permanent changes to the property during the rent-back period.
  • You may lose your security deposit. You can lose your security deposit if there is any damage to the property during the rent-back period.

Rent-Back Risks For Buyers

Buyers entering into a rent-back agreement can also face several risks, such as:

  • You immediately become a landlord. Buyers become landlords. They must receive a security deposit, collect rent and may need to evict the tenant. Some buyers may have never wanted to take on these responsibilities.
  • You may delay your move-in timeline. Buyers can’t move in right away when a rent-back agreement is in place. Buyers may have to wait weeks or even months to move in.
  • You may have to evict your tenant. Renters don’t always vacate the property when they should or pay rent when it’s due. Evicting a seller who has become a tenant through a rent-back agreement can be complicated and time-consuming.

Rent-Back FAQs

Read through some frequently asked questions to help you decide whether signing a rent-back agreement is right for you.

Can rent-back agreements be negotiated?

Yes, the terms of a rent-back agreement are negotiable. Both parties can negotiate the rent-back duration, the rental amount, the security deposit terms, maintenance and utilities and other relevant details.

How common are rent-back agreements in real estate?

Rent-back agreements are common in competitive housing markets and have recently grown in popularity. How often you see them will depend on local market conditions and individual circumstances.

What happens when a rent-back agreement ends?

Like apartment leases, the seller must move out once the rent-back period reaches the end date indicated in the agreement. If the seller doesn’t move out, the buyer can evict them.

The Bottom Line

It’s wise to consider your personal and financial situation before deciding whether to rent-back a house. A buyer who wants to put a rent-back agreement in place should talk with an attorney and their lender.

Both parties must sign the agreement, which should detail the monthly rental rate, the security deposit amount, the length of the agreement, insurance coverage and utility and home maintenance responsibilities.

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Miranda Crace

Miranda Crace is a Senior Section Editor for the Rocket Companies, bringing a wealth of knowledge about mortgages, personal finance, real estate, and personal loans for over 10 years. Miranda is dedicated to advancing financial literacy and empowering individuals to achieve their financial and homeownership goals. She graduated from Wayne State University where she studied PR Writing, Film Production, and Film Editing. Her creative talents shine through her contributions to the popular video series "Home Lore" and "The Red Desk," which were nominated for the prestigious Shorty Awards. In her spare time, Miranda enjoys traveling, actively engages in the entrepreneurial community, and savors a perfectly brewed cup of coffee.