How to Show a Tenant-Occupied Unit

By Kaitlin Hurtado on July 31, 2022

Part of being successful in managing a rental property is reducing unit turnover. As much as you may work to keep tenants satisfied with their rental unit, they may opt to end their lease for one reason or another. If you can’t avoid unit turnover, you want to reduce the amount of time a unit sits vacant as much as possible in order to minimize the lost rental income that comes from a vacant unit. There are a lot of tips and tricks to attracting new tenants to your rental property, but one way you can minimize the amount of time it takes to get new tenants into empty units is to show tenant-occupied units.

Showing a tenant-occupied unit may give you a few more obstacles to navigate through as you have to consider the tenant(s) and their personal belongings still occupying the unit. With the proper plan and communication, you can still show a tenant-occupied unit to reduce how long a unit is going to sit vacant once your current tenant moves out.

Photo: Pexels

Communicate with your tenants

While you are the landlord or property manager of the property, your tenant will still have some form of authority over the unit as long as their lease has not expired. Remember that while it’s a property you manage, it’s your tenant’s current home. They may feel uncomfortable letting complete strangers in their living space full of their personal belongings.

Some tenants may prefer to stay in the unit while you and the potential new tenants are walking through the unit, while others will feel more comfortable leaving the unit entirely during the showings. Whatever the case may be, make sure both you and your tenant are on the same page when it comes to showing the tenant-occupied unit, from who is going to be there to when they are going to be there.

Schedule showings strategically 

Squeezing in several showings in a single day or window can be a lot more accommodating for your current tenant. For example, you can schedule several showings in a four-hour window rather than single showings sporadically scheduled over the course of a week. This method of scheduling can be easier on your tenant as they can plan to spend several hours out of the unit on a single day rather than leaving over the course of several days.

Not only is this courteous to your tenant, but it can be a more efficient use of your time as you only need to block out a single window for showings rather than several smaller ones.

Keep open communication with your tenant from the moment you schedule the showings to a courtesy reminder the day before or the day of the showing. Working with the tenant to find times that are convenient for them will show them respect and that you are remaining considerate of their preferences even by asking them to open up their homes for showings.

Do a quick walkthrough and inspect the unit’s condition 

While showing a tenant-occupied unit may save you the problem of having a dedicated model unit for showings, you may run into the issue of having to show units that are not exactly move-in ready. Depending on the tenant and how long they have been occupying the unit, the unit may need some serious upgrades for outdated appliances, old carpets, peeling paint, and so on.

If you are planning to show a tenant-occupied unit, consider doing a quick walkthrough to see the unit’s current condition. Doing so can help you avoid the shock that may come from unexpected issues if you’re seeing the unit for the first time in the presence of a prospective tenant. You can also anticipate questions that a prospective tenant may have, such as being able to assure them that the carpet or appliances will be replaced after the current tenant moves out.

You can politely ask your tenant to tidy up to ensure that the unit looks as appealing as possible, or you can offer to pay for a cleaning service prior to scheduled showings. Who is going to say no to a free cleaning?

Offer incentives to tenants 

Showing off occupied units may seem like a big ask of your tenants, so you can reward them accordingly. The easy choice may be material goods like gift cards and vouchers, movie tickets, and more. You can also offer a discount on their final month of rent as another way to thank them for opening up their living spaces for an apartment showing.

The incentive does not need to be a grand gesture, but offering a small token of appreciation can help smooth things over with your tenants and keep them on the same page as you show off their occupied units.

Showing a tenant-occupied unit does not have to be a major headache. With these tips in mind, you can communicate with your tenants to plan out how to show a tenant-occupied unit.

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