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Can a Landlord Show a House While Occupied?

modern single storey home with a for rent sign on its lawn

If you have hosted showings after putting your house on the market, you already know that it can be quite awkward to have a stranger or multiple strangers (in case of an open house inspection) walk through your home while they judge every aspect of it. Overall, it is an intimidating and uncomfortable experience, to say the least. What’s worse, though, is living in a rented home that the landlord wants to show to prospective buyers because, unlike voluntarily showing your own property, this is not something you are doing by choice. 

The mere thought of the above scenario begs the question of whether or not the landlord is within their right to even show the house while you are living in it. Well, we’ve got the answer, and all the relevant information you need, right here in this article!

What Happens When a Landlord Wants to Sell the House You are Renting?

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First of all, tenants should be aware of their own rights to ensure that they are not unlawfully forced to agree to anything against their will. The Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019 and the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 protect the rights of tenants, and provide provisions that state how the landlord must go about selling or showing a house while occupied by tenants. 

By law, the landlord needn’t wait till the end of a lease to sell the house; however, there are many rules and regulations that are to be followed to ensure that both parties are satisfied with the terms, and procedure of the same. Alternatively, if you wish to move out prior to the end of your lease because the landlord wants to sell the property (and conduct showings), termination of tenancy is possible by serving a stipulated notice as per the type of lease agreement you are in. 

Generally, a periodic agreement means having to serve 21 days notice without stating a reason for wanting to leave while a fixed-term agreement involves more specific terms that allow the tenant to give the landlord a shorter notice. This is only possible under the following circumstances:

  • Plans to sell the property are not mentioned in the agreement
  • The landlord verbally tells you that they intend on selling the house (before or after entering a lease agreement)

In both these cases, a 14-day notice for termination of the tenancy will suffice provided that the landlord’s plan to sell the property is in writing, and signed by them as well. 

When Can the Landlord Schedule Showings?

chrome door with black handle open to a large living room

Tenants cannot refuse a landlord’s request to show the house while they are occupying it; however, the landlord must give a 14-day notice (in writing) so that the tenant has enough time to prepare for it. The landlord must also be understanding of the tenant’s personal schedule and therefore, be willing to fix dates and timings of showings as per the tenant’s convenience. It should be noted that landlords cannot bring prospective buyers to the house anytime before the 14-day notice is complete and therefore, you have the right to refuse entry to the premises should they or an agent show up at your doorstep for an inspection.

Since showing a house that is occupied tends to disrupt the tenant’s daily routine, landlords are not allowed to schedule more than two showings in one week. Of course, if the tenant has no objections to the number of showings per week, the landlord may host a few more with their consent. Under circumstances wherein both parties cannot reach an agreement on a day or time for the showing, the landlord is within their right to go forth with an inspection after giving the tenant 48 hours notice (i.e. after the 14-day notice is served). 

Keep in mind that there are strict timings for showings which do not permit entry to the house post 8PM or before 8AM. This also means that the prospective buyers and landlord/agent must leave the premises by 8PM, and not spend more time at the property than they need to during an inspection. You may also refuse house showings scheduled on public holidays and Sundays. 

Are Open-House Showings Allowed?

By law, an open-house inspection cannot be permitted without the tenant’s permission. In other words, you have the right to refuse open-house inspections and, above this, you should ask for proof that the individuals brought along with the landlord or agent are, in fact, prospective buyers.

If you do agree to an open-house showing which permits entry to any and everyone, it is highly recommended that you contact your insurance company for clarification on their policies for damaged or stolen property resulting from an open-house showing. 

Lastly, a landlord cannot request you to leave the house during or just before a showing. They may, however, ask that you secure your pets (if any). If you are unable to be present at the house after agreeing to the date and time for the showing, the landlord may proceed with the inspection without you. 

Do I Have to Clean the House Before a Showing?

As per a regular tenancy agreement, you will be asked to maintain the property in a reasonably clean state. This entails routine cleaning to do away with dirt and grime buildup around the house including the floor, furniture, and kitchen and bathroom surfaces. If you meet the requirement of keeping the premises in a decent condition with regular cleaning, the landlord must accept this and not ask you to do any further cleaning. 

On the other hand, if a landlord wishes to have the property professionally cleaned at their expense, you have the right to approve/object to this as per your wishes. Remember, you are not obligated to agree to hiring a professional home cleaning service unless it is stated as a term in the tenancy agreement at the time of vacating the premises. 

To conclude, the answer to the question: ‘can a landlord show a house while occupied?’ – is ‘yes’. However, just as the property owner has rights to show the house before the lease is up, tenants have rights to approve or object to certain requests, thus ensuring that the showings are conducted lawfully, and as per their convenience. 

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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