Posted in Blog  
  on Jul 10, 2015

Dealing with Tenants That Refuse to Show House

As a property owner, it can be difficult enough to try to sell/rent a home when there are tenants living there. Potential buyers/renters like to see a home as a blank slate instead of how someone else has decided to use the space. When tenants won't give you permission to enter the house to show it, the process becomes even more difficult. Landlords in just about every jurisdiction are able to enter a property to show it for sale upon giving reasonable written notice to the tenants. Having a tenant present who doesn't want the property to sell, however, can be just as much of a deterrent to a sale as a messy property can be. If you're dealing with tenants that refuse to show a house, here are some of the best ways to turn that situation around.

1. Bribe The Tenant.

In the landlord/tenant relationship, if a property sells to a new owner, there is nothing of value that comes to the tenant. Not only is there the potential of a new owner of whom they know nothing about, but it could mean they'd need to find a new place to live. If a tenant has nothing to gain, then they have no motivation to show the property. Make a deal with the problematic tenant. If the property sells, give them a small percentage of the sale for keeping the property in show condition. It works.

2. Avoid The Eviction Process At All Costs.

Evictions can cause three specific problems.

  • It creates the risk that a tenant may destroy the property before they are forced to move out of it, making it not ready for sale until extensive repairs occur.
  • It may turn away a potential investor who wants the rental income from a good tenant.
  • It creates conditions where the tenant may seek retribution, including claims of theft, that must be resolved before a sales contract will go through.

Think of it like this. Even if you just have to wait until the end of a lease before showing the property, the only issue you've got is a need for more time. For the tenant, they'll need a new place to live. Sometimes waiting it out is the best course of action.

3. Know Your Landlord/Tenant Law.

For some jurisdictions, a tenant can actually break their lease and move out of a property when it goes up for sale. Others require tenants to maintain a show-level condition at all times when the property is for sale. Know what to expect so that you don't get an unpleasant surprise with a lease breaking notice that you can't do anything about.

4. Avoid Needless Showings.

The problem with showing a house to prospective buyers/renters is that it can become quite cumbersome for the tenant. If you are showing the home 3x per week, that's a lot to be asking of the tenant even when they're being cooperative. Considering doing a video walk through of the property instead. This will give you the chance to let people see the home without having to show it in person as often, limiting the need to have someone who could ruin the quiet enjoyment of their home.

5. Address The Concerns.

The problem that tenants generally have with a showing is that potential buyers/renters tend to snoop around. They open cabinets, closets, and pantry doors because their curious about the space. To the tenant, however, this is often seen as a violation of their personal privacy. If you can address their concerns and create limits that can address the issues, the tenant may become more agreeable to showing the house.

6. When All Else Fails, The Eviction Process Still Works.

As long as your lease allows you the right to entry with reasonable notice, a tenant who is refusing to cooperate with you is violating the lease. If you've tried mediating the issue, offering incentives, and nothing seems to be working, then what you're left with is a formal eviction. Because this isn't a non-payment of rent issue, there may be a 7-14 day notice required to explain the violation. Most tenants will let you in to show the property after receiving this notice because it stops the eviction process as they've rectified their violation. If, however, they are still refusing to cooperate, you'll need to file for an unlawful detainer or similar hearing in your jurisdiction over the matter. You'll need to present your case before a judge if it goes that far, pay for the filing fees, and pay a process server to deliver the summons. It works, but it could take more than a month and if the tenant suddenly complies before the court orders them out of the property, you could be out legal fees and wind up starting all over again. Dealing with tenants that refuse to show a house can be a headache, but these options can help you to be able address the situation quickly and effectively. As long as you give a tenant some incentive to help you out, you'll be able to show your house to find a buyer for it without much hassle at all.


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