Owning a rental property occupied by tenants doesn't mean that you will never have to show it again. When the lease is about to expire and your renters have given you notice of vacating, it's in your best interest to have new tenants lined up to move in soon after the unit is available. Instead of renting again, you might be ready to sell the property. Regardless of your reason, you can show your property while a tenant is paying rent and living there.
Every state and some local jurisdictions have landlord and tenant laws. Many of these regulations specify reasons for a property owner to legally enter an occupied unit. For example, if there's an urgent situation, such as water pouring out the door or a fire, and the tenant isn't home, a landlord is probably within the law entering without express permission. In most situations, however, the owner or management company must notify the renters before accessing the property.
Many jurisdictions require property owners announce their intentions with adequate notification, such as 24 or 48 hours, before accessing a rental. Once notice is delivered, renters do not have to be present for management to enter. If you aren't sure if your local law requires notice in writing or verbally, it's safest to do both to ensure that your tenant receives word that you will be inside the unit on the date specified.
Legally gaining entry doesn't guarantee the unit will be in the proper condition to show to prospective renters or buyers. Although a tenant must take care of the property and not cause negligent or intentional damage during the term of the lease, it may not be tidy or clean enough to display. It can benefit you to give the tenant notice of entry to inspect the rental before advertising its availability. If your state allows you to enter immediately with the tenant's permission, make sure the unit is presentable before showing it.
Before your tenant's lease expires, explain that you need to show the rental to find new occupants. Ask for cooperation and give assurances that you will not attempt to enter without the proper notification and you will always be present when it's being viewed. If your preliminary inspection indicates that the tenant needs to make minor changes before you show the unit, politely request specific actions to be taken. If the renter is not cooperative, offer a small deduction, such as $25 to $50, off the next month's rent or in cash, if it's the last month of occupancy, for each showing where the unit is in proper order.
- The Landlord Protection Agency: Landlord Tenant Law ~ State by State Rights of Landlords and Tenants
- The AgentHarvest Blog: The Risks of Selling a Rental Property With a Tenant
- California Department of Consumer Affairs: Living In The Rental Unit
- New Mexico Legal Aid: Obligations of Landlords and Tenants for Safety Maintenance and Repairs