May 18th, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Question: I just got a new listing to sell a home that is currently occupied by a tenant. I spoke with the existing tenant who flatly refuses to allow anyone to enter the property at any time, or to even just view the property through a virtual method. The seller says it’s my responsibility to deal with the tenant. What should I do? 

Answer: As a preliminary matter, the seller is wrong. It is not our responsibility as the listing agent to deal with a problematic tenant. Paragraph 7B of the Residential Listing Agreement specifically requires the seller to make “the Property available for showings at reasonable times.”

To answer your question, you would simply inform the seller in writing that this is not our responsibility, and advise the seller to resolve this issue with the tenant before you can have pictures taken or conduct any showings.

Unfortunately, this has become a common situation, given that, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Judicial Council of California generally suspended the filing of eviction proceedings (also known as the “eviction moratorium”). On April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council adopted Emergency Rule 1 to prohibit California courts from issuing a summons on a complaint for unlawful detainer (or eviction), unless necessary to protect public health and safety. This rule remains in effect until 90 days after the Governor lifts the COVID-19 state of emergency or as otherwise amended. Certain cities and counties may have additional restrictions.

In normal times, a tenant must generally allow entry to show the leased premises to prospective buyers. If a tenant were to refuse such entry, the landlord can serve a 3-day Notice to Cure Covenant or Quit. If, after the 3 days, the tenant still refuses entry, the landlord can commence a lawsuit to evict the tenant.

Under the current coronavirus pandemic, tenants generally know that, if they refuse entry, the landlord cannot evict. Hopefully, your seller can work something out, such as by discussing the matter with the tenant, by offering some sort of concession, or through some other resolution.

Copyright© 2020 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties (BHHSCP). All rights reserved. Any unauthorized reproduction or use of this material is strictly prohibited. This information is believed to be accurate as of May 18, 2020. It is not intended as a substitute for legal advice in individual situations, and is not intended to nor does it create a standard of care for real estate professionals.

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