Can I show my apartment to new tenants while the current ones are still in there?

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Question:

My long-term tenants are moving out in a month and I’d like to show the apartment while they are still living there. I want to respect my tenants’ privacy, but I also want to get new people in as soon as possible. Anything I should watch out?

Answer:

It’s ideal to wait until the current tenants move out before you show the rental unit to new people. This will help you avoid problems, such as promising the place to someone, only to have the existing tenants not move out on time. And, if the current tenants are complete slobs, you’ll be better off waiting until they have gone and you have the chance to spruce the apartment up.

It’s understandable, however, that you would want to eliminate any gap in rent by showing the apartment while the current tenants are still there. Here are some ways you can minimize disturbing the current residents:

  • Give as much notice as possible before entering and showing the rental unit. State law usually requires one or two days (see the Nolo chart on state notice requirements to enter rental property).
  • Try to limit the number of times you show the apartment in a given week. And make sure current tenants agree to the times you want to enter (especially if you want to show the place on an evening or weekend).
  • Consider reducing the rent slightly, if showing the unit is a real imposition to current tenants. Or buy your current tenants a special gift, such as a restaurant gift certificate.
  • Don’t put a sign on the rental property itself advertising the rental. If you absolutely need to do so, make sure it clearly says “Do Not Disturb Occupants.”

For more advice on choosing new tenants and dealing with current ones, see the Nolo book Every Landlord’s Legal Guide, by Marcia Stewart, Ralph Warner, and Janet Portman.

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