House showing question

Asked by Joe Zhang, Austin, TX Fri Nov 4, 2011

Hello,

My tenant is on the last month's lease. I notified her that I am going to show the house. The tenant obviously is not happy with it. She gave me 2 requirements for viewing the house:
1, All requests to view the house must be in writing and sent to her email, she will then respond in writing in return.
2. Before any persons enter the property she will need a copy of their drivers license.

Are these two requirements reasonable at all?

Thanks

Joe

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34
John Crowe, Agent, Austin, TX
Fri Nov 4, 2011
BEST ANSWER
Hi, Joe.
Unfortunate to read about your troubles. I'm always hopeful tenants and landlords will share mutual respect as long as each performs as contractually obligated. However, human beings aren't always respectful or reasonable.

Lots of terrific advice from agents here. My experience is there is a hard way and an easy way and I prefer the latter. With difficult tenants, I have taken creative measures to accomplish what I need. For example, I have offered the use of a trailer to assist with the move as long as the tenant helped me lease the home (kept it clean, was fairly flexible with showings, left the premises during showings). It amounted to a bribe, though I got what I wanted - leasing the property without missing a month's rent. He won, I won - both happy. Now, I tried similar measures with another tenant and it didn't work. I couldn't show the property (though legally it was clear I could) and lost some rental income as the home remained vacant for a month.

I guess what I'm writing here is I attempt the reasonable and affect a pleasant, how-can-I-help-you attitude in order to get what I want until I can't. I'd prefer to bite my tongue and, honestly, the aggravation and expense of the legal route tends to take more time (and money) than waiting for the tenant to leave. Filing on a tenant might make me feel better in the short-term, though I always look back and think about how much energy I spent for such a limited result. Plus, aggravating my tenants with threats of legal moves tends to show up in the condition of the property when they depart.

Do your best to play nice. If you can't and have no other recourse, take the legal path. We're talking about 30 days (or less), you may also determine it's a good move to wait. And you aren't being unreasonable, for what it's worth.

Good luck!
1 vote
Joe Zhang, Home Buyer, Austin, TX
Mon Nov 7, 2011
Thank you all for the answers! I may post here again when things settle down ( work out or does not work out).

Joe
2 votes
Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Sat Nov 5, 2011
Joe,
The reality is if you legally can show the place while she is a tenant, she does have certain rights to notice first. She sounds as if she will make things difficult for both of you. You can spend an hour with an attorney together with her and outline what the Law permits and requires in Texas, but that doesn't mean she'll comply or permit a good showing.
Why not wait until her lease is over and she is out. Your home will be vacant and easy to show without hassle.
1 vote
Chuck Moran, Agent, Georgetown, TX
Fri Nov 4, 2011
No that is not reasonable! If you use a TAR lease, it has spelled out what the tenant has to allow the last 30-45 days of the lease. Have agents contact her by phone and set appointment. Agents will let you know if she is being unreasonable and not allowing the home to be shown.
1 vote
Jackie Rankin, Agent, Fort Worth, TX
Fri Nov 4, 2011
Joe,

It depends on how your lease is written. Typically, the lease states you have the right to show the house if the tenant has given notice and intends to vacate the property. Read the lease and see what she agreed to. It is reasonable to request some notice to show the house. This works to both of your advantages. First, the tenant does still live there and hopefully with a little notice she can pick up the home and make it look presentable for future tenants to view. This of course benefits you as well. However, to notify her in writing and expect a response with her permission is probably not what your lease states. Again read your lease. As far as driver license copies, hopefully any Realtor that is showing the house will have taken precautions to make sure that they are showing bonafide renters, and if you are showing the property yourself, you should as well. Again :), read your lease. Good luck!!

Jackie
1 vote
John Watts, Agent, Austin, TX
Fri Nov 4, 2011
Joe,

You will need to review the contents of lease contract paragraphs concerning showing the house with your tenant. This portion of the contract defines your agreement with your tenant. In addition, you may need to consult a real estate attorney.
1 vote
Betina Forem…, Agent, Austin, TX
Sun Feb 5, 2012
Dear Joe,
You need to read the lease to see what was specified. 24 hours notice to show should be sufficent. You are the Landlord and she is only the tenant, therefore you make the rules. If she has pets or small children you should take that into consideration, but ultimately its your property and your rules. Don't let her try to push you around. Good luck!
0 votes
Charles Runn…, Agent, Austin, TX
Sat Jan 21, 2012
You'll need to refer to your lease, but in most cases, you have the right to show the home. Check with the Tenant/landlord Hotline and see what they have to say.
0 votes
Joan Caton, Agent, plainsfield, IL
Fri Nov 11, 2011
Since this is your property, YOU should be dictating the terms. Of course, that occurs with an effective upfront leasing agreement with showing terms being outlined. That being said, in your current situation, I would agree to the first with time limits given for her email response. As for the second, I would tell her it is not required since licensed Realtors will be bringing their clients through the house after pre-qualifying them.
0 votes
Ron Thomas, Agent, Fresno, CA
Fri Nov 11, 2011
A VACANT house is a lot easier to SHOW and SELL.

Good luck and may God bless
0 votes
Ryan ORourke, Agent, Glencoe, IL
Fri Nov 11, 2011
It depends on what the lease stipulates. You should have that written into your new leases. 24 Hours should be sufficient without the need of confirmation. That would be reasonable for the first requirement. Tell her to take a hike on the second one.
0 votes
Keith Daniels, Agent, Montgomery, AL
Thu Nov 10, 2011
WOW... Well being that the term "Reasonable" is relative, I would say your 1st stop should be your lease agreement which should spell out how the situation is to be handled. If it does not, the tenant has paid to have exclusive un-interrupted use of the space and has the right to decide on what the terms are to be. My suggestion is to do your best to stay cordial with the tenant and keep the lines of communication open so they do not become a hindrance during the showing or the home. Good Luck!
0 votes
John Armstro…, Agent, Bloomington, IL
Thu Nov 10, 2011
Joe,
Your lease should have some specifics spelled out how this situation is handled. I can understand the 1st request but the 2nd is extreme. It is better than having the tenant present and telling lies about the condition of the home.
0 votes
Don Groff, Agent, Austin, TX
Sun Nov 6, 2011
The lease address these issues and I will write in specific requirements so as to avoid this type of situation. If they do not want to comply they can not lease or they can also additional rent to cover the issue of not being able to show the home. It's up to them but you need to address this issue upfront in the lease as now it is too late. So look over the lease and see what it states as that will dictate how to proceed and what is required of both parties.

Don Groff
REALTOR® | Mortgage Broker
Keller Williams Realty | 360 Lending Group
o.512.669.5599 m.512.633.4157
listings@dongroff.com
0 votes
Terry Bell, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Sat Nov 5, 2011
You didn't clarify whether you have an agent representing you in the sale, and you didn't say whether your tenant was hoping to stay on. Tenants have no benefit in showing their homes and feel generally inconvenienced. That's where a good agent comes into the picture, is to negotiate for you with your tenant that they will try and encourage a sale to an investor who might want a tenant, or you might offer some rent discount for the inconvenience. As for the driver's license, they should be assured that agent's bring their clients and are responsible for their clients, and you should advise the tenants to put away valuables. Review your lease that you had your tenant sign for the language about notice of entry to the house. Best, Terry Bell, Realtor, Santa Rosa, CA
0 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Sat Nov 5, 2011
A well-written lease would handle this issue. If you have to do this again, be certain that you have a clause in the lease specifying under what conditions the tenant will allow the property to be shown.

Then, when it comes time to put the property on the market, you can go to the tenant with the lease, and you can offer to sweeten the deal. I like my sellers to offer the tenant $10-$25 for every business card they collect or every login to the keybox, if the tenant is willing to keep the place presentable and available on short notice. This way, everybody wins a little bit.

But, that's water under the bridge.

Having been on both sides of the door - as a renter and as a landlord, it is my experience that renters - especially young renters - never really get that their landlord might be several hundred dollars a month in the red and struggling to keep things together, nor do they care. I always figured, "Hey, I'm paying you, so you must be doing just fine." Then, I found myself on the other side!

All the best,
0 votes
Squishy, Renter, Dallas, TX
Sat Nov 5, 2011
I agree with many of the answers listed here, but I wanted to add the perspective of a renter.

First of all, she does clearly still consider this her property BECAUSE SHE STILL IS RENTING IT. That's not to say that you don't have the right to enter the property, but of course she feel protective.

Second, she is probably feeling protective of her belongings. It's one thing to have your landlord stop in to fix something. it's another to have strangers walking through the property as well. If something goes missing, would you be willing to replace it?

Third, you don't say if she's been a bad tenant. If she has been, it's not worth the headache of picking another battle in the last month so I would wait until she leaves to show the property. If she's been a great tenant, why end on a sour note? Just wait to show the place.

An earlier commenter stated that it's a good rental market, and I tend to agree. Assuming that she hasn't done any major damage, I could see you renting out the property in a few days to the new tenant. That person will have to arrange for a move date, set up utilities, etc. so there's always a lag.

Finally, in this age where everyone is a critic and everyone has a platform to be heard online, there's no reason to push a fight if it's not necessary. End on a positive note, do a thorough inspection when she leaves, and find a great new tenant.

(if it were me and I was a single girl living alone, I'd be scared of random people coming into my rented home too.)
0 votes
Angele Moyse…, Agent, Austin, TX
Sat Nov 5, 2011
Hi,

She sounds like a nightmare. Sometimes it's easier to show a property and get it leased without the tenant in the property. If you price your house right the next time it should rent very quickly as our rental market is very hot. My leases usually go in no more than 3 days (no joke).

Spare yourself the grief and let her ride out her lease. Then, hit her for everything you possible can to keep some of her deposit. Did she ever pay late? You are allowed to take the late fees out of her deposit. Be passive nhow and get her towards the end, when she's out.

Has anyone pointed out to her that she signed her name to allowing showings? Not sure what lease you used but I'm thinking you signed a promulgated lease since you have an agent.

Good luck!
0 votes
JOSEPH E JAR…, Agent, Austin, TX
Sat Nov 5, 2011
Joe, you got a lot of great answers which mostly say the same thing...check the SPECIFIC terms of the lease you have with her. If her demands are not reasonable according to the lease, let her know what the lease states and try to come to a peaceful & reasonable solution. If needed, you may need to conatct a Real Estate attorney, depending on the outcome. IF she responds to emails QUICK enough, that may be fine, plus as another agent said, it will give her time to clean and prepare the property for showings, MUCH to your benefit. AS far as demanding copies of the licenses, I think that is ridiculous and and probably violates some privacy law/rule somewhere. I certainly would NOT give a stranger a copy of my license! Perhaps an alternative may be the Realtors card, which would tell who who showed the property. Hope this helps!! Joe
0 votes
allan erps,A…, Agent, Pearl River, NY
Fri Nov 4, 2011
Your lease should define making this property available with reasonable notice. Driver License?? Must be an Attorney or does not want to leave!
0 votes
Doug Vogelsa…, Agent, Austin, TX
Fri Nov 4, 2011
Joe,

How easily can you see yourself handing this mess off to someone who knows far more about these situations than your tenant and will fight tooth and nail for your interests?

I don't see this as an area that most agents can handle appropriately (myself included). Sounds like you need a professional property manager who is familiar with the laws and contracts governing property leasing. This situation alone would be worth a year's worth of fees in my opinion.

A property manager is there (in part) to prevent you from having to deal with sticky situations such as these. You can hire one RIGHT NOW and he will give the tenant notice that management of the property has changed and will act strongly on YOUR behalf.

Call me at 512-739-0457 or email me at doug [at] myagentsforchange.com and I will gladly share the name of our favorite property management company/property manager with you.

Good luck,

Doug Vogelsass
Agents For Change Real Estate
0 votes
Bobby Jean H…, , Wilmington, NC
Fri Nov 4, 2011
I am not an attorney...since there is a lease contract involved...I would speak to an attorney on your options...then if you do not really have any...whoever is your property mgr or agent..see if they could offer assistance to help this situation for example to be present with there is a showing. Seems she is concerned about folks being in the property with her belongings there and if you addressed the safety of everything and making sure she feels secure...it could work out!
0 votes
Marc White, Agent, Charlotte, NC
Fri Nov 4, 2011
I agree with all those that have already remarked, ask your agent to help.
0 votes
Thomas Hess, Agent, Austin, TX
Fri Nov 4, 2011
Your agent should know how to handle the situation. That is what you have him for. I've handled worse situations.....believe me! And the public thinks all we do is "show pretty houses to pretty people!"
0 votes
Joe Zhang, Home Buyer, Austin, TX
Fri Nov 4, 2011
Thomas,

Thank you. The lockbox we are using is an electronic one. We have explained to my tenant that we are not
using the combo lockbox and she should not concern the security. But it did not help. She even insulted my agent in the email and called him idiot and loser. She prohibited my agent or me to call her.
0 votes
Thomas Hess, Agent, Austin, TX
Fri Nov 4, 2011
Thanks for the additional info. I would check with your tenant's council or whatever they call it locally and discuss this case. Get there before she does. Since you have the right to show the property in the lease I would just get it clarified. Is there an electronic lock box on the property that only gives access to agents showing the property? That would overcome most 'security' c oncerns. If there is a combo lockbox (like you can buy at Home Depot) if I was the tenant I would be concerned about security. If the property is only being shown to potential tenants that are escorted by a licensed agent you have a stronger case.
0 votes
Joe Zhang, Home Buyer, Austin, TX
Fri Nov 4, 2011
First, thank you all for the answers.

I do have a contract that states "Access by landlord'. I rented the house out by myself a year ago.

Based on the lease agreement, I or my agent is authorized to place the lockbox during the last 30 days of the lease. The lease also states that the landlord can charge tenant $50 trip charge fot the dennied access. The lease does not require a written notice for a landlord to show the property, the lease states that the landlord may enter the property at reasonable times without notice to make repairs or to show the property to prospective tenants.
I am just not comfortable with my tenant's two requirements. Are her 2 requirements normal? If I request an access, and she intends to delay it, or she dennies me, can I charge he $50/each (agreed in the lease) and deducts it from the deposit?
Since a lockebox is already placed there, if in case, I, my agent or other agent enter the property without giving a notice, can the tenant sue me later?

Here is a little deepper background:

A few days ago, I went to the house to show it to my listing agent. I got my tenant's permission to enter the house. Then the next day, my tenant was complained that we violated her legal right, since we moved her make-up bag from bed to the floor. I do not remember we touched any of her personal stuff. But it was possible that my agent moved a few little things in the room (e.g. make-up bag) to take pictures and forgot to put them back. Shen wrote an email to threat to sue me and my agent for harrasment and violation of tenants right. and in the same email, she gave out the two requirements I mentioned before. I do not feel my agent and I did anything wrong, I don't think she really wants to file a complaint , but if things heat up and she does sue us, is there any chance she can win?

Thanks

Joe
0 votes
Bruce Lynn, Agent, Coppell, TX
Fri Nov 4, 2011
What's in your lease? Normally the Texas leases are very landlord friendly, so these restrictions don't necessarily fly. In the lease I use there are all kinds of provisions for showing the house, pretty much when I want.

Notice is nice and courteous, but in my lease not needed. I'm never going to give a tenant someone else's drivers license. We also have provisions that if we show up and can't get in, there will be a charge. So that can quickly eat up the deposit if they want that back.

You can likely be a lot tougher, but I also say in most cases it is pretty difficult to lease an occupied house with a tenant in place. If they're packing and don't want people inside, the house will be messy, they'll tell potential tenants all the issues, and generally be uncooperative.....that's why we normally rent them vacant.

Obviously there can be exceptions....but that's what I find most often.

Good luck.
0 votes
Thomas Hess, Agent, Austin, TX
Fri Nov 4, 2011
This is one of those headaches that happens when you attempt to be your own landlord. You can always manage your own property but I highly recommend a licensed agent that can advertise it on the MLS and have it shown by other licensed agents for the initial lease. Our standard lease forms (as mentioned before) anticipates this problem before any tenant even moves in. The tenant has rights here and since you have nothing in writing you may have to honor her wishes. And, yes, it is totally unreasonable......but you did not have protection in writing.

Tom Hess
Real Estate Broker/PLR
Certified ECO Broker
Cell: (512) 567-8522
0 votes
Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Fri Nov 4, 2011
Well, first, check the lease. "Contract" trumps "reasonable."

1. In writing and via e-mail: Not reasonable. No way.

2. Copy of driver's license. Yes. Reasonable. That's even a recommended procedure for Realtors dealing with customers they haven't previously met.

As I previously said, though, check the terms of the lease. If the lease is silent on those issues or you're willing to modify them, then: Writing: No, Driver's License: Yes.

Hope that helps.
0 votes
Vanessa Nunez, Agent, Austin, TX
Fri Nov 4, 2011
Joe,

It is obvious that your tenant feels that she owns the house. These are NOT reasonable and she is prohibiting you the right to secure another tenant. You can always call TREC legal and they can advise you of your rights as a landlord. 512-936-3120
0 votes
Bill Austin, Agent, Austin, TX
Fri Nov 4, 2011
Joe,
Have your agent review the lease agreement. It should have dictated the terms of showings, lockbox, and notice required. Certainly they have the right to be notified. The other stuff...doubt it.
If you don't have an agent let me know I'd be happy to discuss & review this and yolur future needs.

Bill ~ 512-709-6343
0 votes
Susan Galyean, , Austin, TX
Fri Nov 4, 2011
I agree with John's answer. As long as the terms of the lease are consistent with Texas landlord / tenant law, the terms of the lease determine what the tenant can demand at this point.
0 votes
BG, Home Buyer, Phoenix, AZ
Fri Nov 4, 2011
it seems like safety is your tenant concern, sounds reasonable to me. (same as your concern about loss of rental income if you wait for the house to be vacant)
0 votes
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