Moving Tenant Asking for Us Not to do Tours due to COVID

64 Replies

One of my tenants will be moving in July and I am beginning to do tours for the turn over for potential renters and the moving tenant is asking for us not to do tours due to safety concerns because of covid. I notified her yesterday (giving 24hrs notice) and she replied 12 hours later with these concerns. How are/ would other landlords handle this matter? I have two tours scheduled for today.

Thanks in Advance.

I would honor her request given the virus concerns. She has a valid concern.
Lets say you push through and do it anyway and someone gets sick and dies.
Is that worth you getting tours of the property done prior to her moving out?
What about a lawsuit for your negligence?

Maybe ask her in exchange for you not doing tours with her still in the property that she move 2 weeks early to give you time to get a tenant.
What about putting her up in a hotel for a few days so you can have a full on open house?

If she refuses I would just wait so as not to possibly get someone infected that has already said no.

Nothing good will come from 'forcing' the tour issue, this was true for tenants that didn't want tours even before the current situation. I'd ask if she could cleanup and provide a nice video walkthrough, or allow you a time in the next few days to do your own one time. That one time walk-through would be what you send future prospects. Currently that's likely the best option you have for some period of time until this dies back down. 

Ask her for alternate options.  She can do a video tour of the inside of the home, the perspective tenants can come over to view the outside of the home after seeing the video tour of the interior and look through windows to see the inside.  Not ideal, but they will want to see things in person.  She can also take photos of anything the perspective tenants want to see that wasn't on the video tour.

I'd first find out if tenant is ok with modified arrangement, where you provide a video tour first, then only schedule appointments for people who are still interested after seeing video, for instance, a 2-hour window once every two weeks, mask and gloves required, and provide Microban or other disinfectant spray that you use after showings end, then leave it with tenant to use in case they feel it needs further disinfecting.  I had a client who was selling his unit and offered tenants free rent for last 30 days if they allowed showings with mask and gloves.  It only took 2-3 showings plus inspection and appraisal, so it worked well for all and closed the same week they moved out. Perhaps a smaller rent rebate would help.  

@Stephen Spearman Unfortunately whether her intentions are genuine or not we are in a situation where you have to comply with her wishes. This virus has a lot of people freaked out. 

As a compromise maybe ask her if you can set up one "open house" type showing per week to bring people through. A one hour window where people can view and she can leave if she doesn't feel safe. 

We are currently not doing occupied unit tours due to Covid-19.  Your tenant has a valid concern. This is where risk management comes into play. This is an unprecedented situation and with this being so we need to be more careful to avoid negligence as others have mentioned. We need to be mindful of potential health risks not only to the tenants but also of those that are viewing the vacancies and the person who is doing the showings. 

@Lynn M. That’s a solid point. I and stacking the virtual tour back to back currently for safety of the tenant and efficiency sake. Luckily I do have over two months to fill the turn over, so time is not a concern.

@Stephen Spearman I proactively went out and bought a Ricoh theta V camera that will allow me to make virtual tours with Zillow’s free 3-d tour app. Now I list the 3-d tour link everywhere I advertise. I require everyone to view the 3-d tour and to submit an application before offering a physical tour. I do this to reduce tours to only people who are serious and who would even qualify. Then for the physical tours I’ve stated that children are not allowed on physical tours and all tour participants will be required to wear masks. I’ve had one tenant ask for no tours, but I explained the steps I’m taking and that has been received well.

@Ryan B. Appreciate the ideas. I just completed my first Zillow 3D tour and will be adopting a very similar process to you in the coming week. I used my IPhone and it didn’t turn out great, so I may need to look into a better camera.

@Stephen Spearman I would share with her your written procedure for doing showings and ask her to consider given your precautions. First thing in your procedure should be only showing the property to verified applicants. That should significantly cut down showings. For showings, require they wear masks, limit time in the property to a fast walk through and ask them not to touch anything inside the property. If you touch the door knobs, bring disinfectant wipes to wipe down the surface. If they are still not ok with your procedure, respect their wishes. 

Another option is do a video tour of the property. That is what many landlords are doing right now and applicants understand. 

We had a tenant move out at the end of April.  We usually like to show the unit when in good shape, such at this one, to a few of the applicants that go through the hurdles necessary.  We did not even ask because we did not want to be at all responsible if someone got sick.

If we do not find a new tenant when the unit is still occupied, we usually advertise for a couple days and then do an open house setting rent at full market value.  The frenzy of the open house typically results in 1 to 4 applications but has the appearance of a lot more interest (you would think by the interest we would be getting a handful of applications).  It is rare for us to not get at least one applicant using this method.  This is in a two hour open house.

We decided we would show the house individually with at least 1 hour between showings.  We decided we would charge $50 less than market in hopes that it would reduce the number of showings required.  Two people maximum in the party to view the unit, masks required, and keep distance from us.  In the first ~20 showings we got two applications that both very quickly retracted their applications.  I am confident neither would have retracted their applications in our usual frenzy approach.  Fortunately in the next 3 showings we received two applicants.  Hopefully one of them will meet our criteria.

This means it took ~23 hours of showing (versus normally 2 hours of showing) to get two applicants.  I also put us about 1.5 weeks behind where we usually would have been with this unit.  This unit virtually always would have been rented for June 1, but for this vacancy I think that is unlikely.

So we ended up spending significantly more time showing the unit and will likely end up with a longer vacancy.  But we showed the unit in a manner that I an confident is not likely to lead to anyone getting the Corona virus.  I would make the same decision if I were to do it again (and we have not finished vetting the prospective tenant to even know if we have for sure a tenant).

I would honor your tenant's request.  I find the request reasonable even though it is likely going to cost you a bit financially.

Good luck

Originally posted by @Stephen Spearman :

One of my tenants will be moving in July and I am beginning to do tours for the turn over for potential renters and the moving tenant is asking for us not to do tours due to safety concerns because of covid. I notified her yesterday (giving 24hrs notice) and she replied 12 hours later with these concerns. How are/ would other landlords handle this matter? I have two tours scheduled for today.

Thanks in Advance.

 Great question and very important aspect of everything right now. 

I see it is a giant liability monster and to be totally honest I am terrified to poke or provoke it at all in any degree. 

We directed everyone across all departments, leasing to maintenance, that any and all unit entries MUST have tenant coordination and agreed on appointment, if tenant says no, that's it, no go. We ask them kindly if there is any way we can make it work, such as a time they will be out of unit and we will try to negotiate something that works but as I started with, no push, no provoke. 

The only exception is emergency service requiring entry to secure loss of life or property. And in those cases, techs can "suite up" like it's plutonium in there. 

@Stephen Spearman

Am I the only 1 who thinks it’s unreasonable not to show? Did she virtual tour her new place and call it good? Has anyone signed off a 3D viewing alone? I did a Zillow 3D with an iphone and it’s a bit rough. Is the 360 camera worth the upgrade?

I listed a property for August 1st yesterday. Everyone (10 requests) is asking “when can I tour? How about today?”. I did 3D view via iPhone, added a video I’ve been emailing, and did about 44 photos instead of the usual 20. I’m verifying tenants meet our requirements upfront and the move in date aligns, sending the lease for review/additional questions, asking they are 80% certain this is the place for them. I’ll require masks and gloves at showings and bring wipes (good call! Forgot about the wipes)

If after my precautions. I was asked not to show I’d be asking for the tenant to put their money where their mouth is and provide me some rent $ for my vacancy since I always fill 2 months in advance. B+ tenants (I think).

Feel free to rip me apart if needed. I can take it. I was shocked not to see a similar stance already.


@Stephen Spearman - we are in similar situation - we have a tenant moving out June 30 and normally we would be doing showings weeks prior to move out date. Due to COVID19 - our first showing will be a couple of days after tenant moves out. Unit will be cleaned and disinfected. Liability and risk not worth showing while unit is occupied.