Should Tenants stay or go during Open Houses and showings?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Lucky Star Realty

There are two sides to the issue of should tenants stay or go when a property is being shown, whether that is during an open house, or an agent is bringing a buyer to the property.  ON the one hand, the best case senario for a property to be shown is to have it be cleaned and vacant.  The property needs to be vacant when an agent brings a buyer to view the property because then, the buyers do not feel intimidated or that they are being "watched" while they are at the property.  Also, they can freely express their views, likes and dislikes, amongst themselves and their agent.  ON the flip side, if a property is being shown that has tenants living there and the tenants have property missing or destroyed aftar a showing, they are more likely to blame the showing agent and buyers, so in this case, it is best to have the tenants stay home, yet be out of the way, so that when something goes wrong or missing, they do not blame the buyers when it is not their fault. 

We recently had two tenants living in two seperate listings call and cancel on their open houses.  A few days ago, both sets of tenants had agreed to allowing our company to hold open houses this weekend, but this morning, both tenants called to cancel for some reason or other.  I contacted one of my sellers who had one of the listings and she was not pleased.  She claimed that the tenants had agreed to allow us to market and show the property as need be during the coarse of their tenancy because they knew and agreed to the house being for sale on the market as they were living there.  Both parties agreed to this in writing on the rental contract.  This was something that I had forgotten too, that the seller included these points as terms of renting their property to the tenants. 

So who is right and who has the final say so, the tenants or the sellers in whether or not our company can conduct an open house on the property.. if the tenants do not agree to it in the last minute?  Any opinions or suggestions will be apreciated.  Thank you.


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Charles McDonald
Charlottesville Real Estate Solutions - Charlottesville, VA
REALTOR®, Blogger, Principal Broker®, Owner
Hands down the tenants should go! How many times have you seen buyers and sellers start to talk and just cringe?
Sep 08, 2007 11:59 PM #9
BLRGUY(Beach & Luxury Realty Inc) - Saint Pete Beach, FL

It isn't good to have tenants around during they always seem to point out all the negatives of the property...but if it is so bad...why are they still living there?


Sep 09, 2007 12:07 AM #10
Simon Conway
Orlando Area Real Estate Services - Orlando, FL
Tenants should be as far away as possible during showings, but I don't think you should ever hold an open house in a tenanted property. The risks to your seller (accusations of theft etc) are huge.
Sep 09, 2007 12:36 AM #11
Konnie Mac McCarthy
McLean, VA
Associate Broker - VA & MD
GO!!!!   I have never had a good experience with a tenant was in a home...I had one property I was not gettting any showings, I could not figure out what was going on, come to find the tenant had the storm door locked so agents could not get to the lock box....tell them to gooooo
Sep 09, 2007 12:40 AM #12
Nicole Garner
Not Available - Tigard, OR

This was the seller's choice to have the property marketed to sell the property. I have had experience with showing a property that was tenant occupied... It was not a very good chowing. First on all when I was told to call, the tenant said oh well I am going to be going somewhere so you can't come by. I thought well that would have been a perfect time, anyway I rescheduled. So when my clients and I went to tour the property, to my surprise there were not only one person but three there why I was showing the property. They didn't want us to go into numerous rooms, they had the doors shut, they kept cursing and saying things right in front of my clients that were very inappropriate (did I mention-my clients have a toddler also). I just could not believe this. Needless to say my clients had to pass on that house.

So personally I think the tenants should go. They live there and obviously do not want the seller to sell the home, even thought they agreed on it. I hope you and the seller the best of luck!! 

Sep 09, 2007 02:22 AM #13
Rolo Cuadrado
Colorado Mountain College - Frisco, CO
I would NEVER want tenants present when showing, or during an open house. Good specific showing instructions that work for the tenant are important. If the tenants are really uncooperative, then William's suggestion to pay them is an option that might work. 
Sep 09, 2007 04:47 AM #14
Sandy Nelson
Riley Jackson Real Estate Inc. - Olympia, WA
your Olympia area Realtor

I have a tenant incentive program. When I list a home that is occupied by a tenant, I meet with the tenant to  get any concerns they have out in the open, to come up with fair showing instructions and to explain the showing process. I give them a reward certificate for a $200 gift card if the property gets a valid offer within 30 days, $100 for an offer within 60 days, and $50 if it sells after 60 days. This motivates them to be cooperative in the selling process (absent at showings, allow open houses etc...). When it's time for them to move out, I ask for a new mailing address to send the certificate to. I then mail the certificate along with a "thank you" card to their new address and input the new address into my prospecting list. With a relationship already established, when it's time for the tenant to buy real estate, who do you think they'll call?


Sep 09, 2007 06:18 AM #15
Sherry Armstrong
RE/MAX Property Centre - Ormond Beach, FL
Daytona Beach FL real estate
I like Sandy's idea about a tenant incentive program but the liability to the seller is huge! Here in Florida, we have a lot of rented,investor owned properties! I like the the idea of an incentive program but sometimes it's not manageable. We have an investor who is losing about 12-15 properties and showing houses owned by him is a nightmare! Where did he find those renters???
Sep 09, 2007 03:44 PM #16
Scott Daniels Florida Real Estate 2.0. Agents Earn 100% Commission.
Florida List For Less Realty, Inc. Broker/Owner. - Cooper City, FL

I can`t believe a tenant who`s paying rent would allow an Open House.

lanlord/tenant rights would prevail for this tenant if they decided to sue. 

Sep 10, 2007 12:25 AM #17
Penny Florence
Midvale, UT
I feel it is best that home owners/ tenants should not be home, but I have a client who insists that she be home when other agents bring clients through.  She was a victim of looting and is very cautious of people.  I let the other agents know that she will be there. 
Sep 10, 2007 03:51 AM #18
Thavisak Lucky Syphanthong
Lucky Star Realty - Crescent City, CA

Wow!  Thank you everyone for commenting on this topic.  Apparantly, there are two sides to this, one is that there is a chance that tenants' belongings could be missing and they would blame it on us the realtors, and the other is that if the tenants were present during showings or open houses, then they would likely make comments to our buyers about negative things affecting the property. 

Well I guess in the end, it would depend on the tenants, their relationship with the sellers, the realtors, and how comfortable they are with us showing the property if they are not there. 

By the way, the tenants that live in my seller's listings all agreed to have realtor showings and open houses in their rental contracts, these houses were vacant when we listed them and the tenants knew that they were up for sale.  So who is right then?  Does the seller have the right to show the property for showings and open houses, as long as they give tenants 24hrs notice and the tenants have to comply no matter what?  Thanks again for the comments!:)

Sep 10, 2007 07:08 AM #19
Greg Wilson
1st Cornerstone Realty - Schaumburg, IL
I think the tenent shouldn't be present.
Sep 10, 2007 02:44 PM #20
Rosemary Brooks
BMC Real Estate - 209-910-3706 - Stockton, CA
The Mother & Daughter Realty Team
I think they should not be present and left alone with the viewers, they tend to say the wrong stuff, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident.  If they are not going to let you do it alone ==don't have open house and stay with your viewers.
Sep 10, 2007 03:04 PM #21
Sherry Armstrong
RE/MAX Property Centre - Ormond Beach, FL
Daytona Beach FL real estate
When I show a property that has a tenant present and the buyer is an ivestor who would like the property already rented, I have found that informing the buyer that this buyer would want them to stay changes their attitude a bit. Of course, it the buyer wants to move in, I don't say too much. We have so many listing that are vacant, it's fairly easy to show a buyer who'll occupy plenty of houses that are vacant to avoid the renter situation.
Sep 10, 2007 03:34 PM #22
June Mellor
Century 21 All Islands - Kailua, HI

I prefer that tenants nor sellers (if the home is owner occupied) are home during a showing or open house.

Tenants most likely are not thrilled with the possibility of needing to find another home in the near future and for sellers, sometimes they can share a nice story of their future plans and end of giving the other side some bargaining power (i.e. - sharing that they have a short timeframe and need to move soon, or that they are divorcing and just want to get rid of the home, etc.) - you never know what may be said that can weaken your negotiating position.

Just my 2 cents...

Aloha from Hawaii!

June Mellor

Sep 11, 2007 10:08 PM #23

i am a tenant who has lived in this duplex for 11 years. I've been a good renter, I've never been late, I've had no complaints.

Two days ago a person who is not the realtor or the home owner, called my home and told my 13 year old daughter that the house was now up for sale. That a for sale by owner sign would be placed in the yard the next day.


i called this person back, she identified herself only as Heidi. she claims to be a friend of the owner.. she is no longer licensedto be a realtor, but she would be handling the sale of the duplex. she told me she wants to come into the home to inspect it so she can make a determination as to price.

she also informed me that she would be holding open houses on the weekends.

I have never agreed to an open house. I haven't signed anything other than the normal rental lease. so what are my options for her holding open houses when she is neiher the owner or a realtor, and what if something does come up missing?

I'd appreciate any advice i can get!



Apr 02, 2009 10:18 AM #24


As you can see from the overwhelming negativity toward tenants above, don't ask a realtor, ask an attorney. This is not a bid for your business, it is simply common sense. These people appear to hate tenants and pidgeon-hole them all as being the same.

Best of luck!

Apr 07, 2010 03:39 PM #25
The bottom line is that realtors only care about their commissions - certainly not tenants in the middle of a landlord selling a house. If you are a tenant - you have no obligation to leave your rental home during showings, in fact, it would be risking possible thefts by buyers. I would also absolutely not allow any "realtor open houses" while you are living in the property - there could be dozens of thieves trying to steal anything they can from your house. Child molesters could see your children's photos, toys or clothes and know where to find them, possibly even learn the best way into your home.
May 28, 2014 10:39 AM #26
Heide Reed
We are tenants; we pay 2500 dollars a month for rent. We intend to have peace and privacy every day that we pay rent or be compensated for the day that is ruined with unscheduled showings or open houses. We take excellent care of this property and have never been late for rent - why should we be treated like WE are the inconvenienced rather than the ones being inconvenienced? I will not allow a lock box on the door because repairmen and realtors then have access to my rental home any time of the day or night - how do I know there is not a rapist or a thief amongst them? I have set guidelines for showing the house (what hours and days) in the terms of our lease. I will be here for any showing so that my things are not stolen, my pets not harassed by viewers that have small children, so that my dogs are not accidentally let out the back gate, so little kids are not bouncing on my bed so that the teen son doesn't wander into one of the rooms away from the realtor and steal something. It is time for you realtors to start treating the renter who has been paying the mortgage for your clients house with respect and concern. My husband is an executive and we have to move every few years with transfers from merging companies so we no longer buy a house. I am sick of realtors and rental agencies treating us like we are all 24-year-old frat house renters. The comments from realtors in this posting just show that they are all inconsiderate jerks out to make a buck.
May 28, 2014 11:00 AM #27

Heide Reed...I agree with you very much!!! For me things are slighly different in which Im a single parent of two children. Just yesterday I was threating by my landlord of an eviction. The resaon why is because of me/family being present during the Open House. After reviewing my lease there are no indications of me agreeing not to be present. I just willgingly been complying to the request. Although now its directed to me that I must follow these orders. Now seriously is this fair to threating someone and is this something I must contunie to put up with??? Exhausted with this whole process and as much as I would like to be accomidating it appears to be more for them to taking advantage. Completly feed up!

Jun 29, 2014 04:57 PM #28
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