Tips for Selling a Rental Property with Tenants in Place

If you’re ready to sell your rental home but are concerned about how to make the showings happen while tenants are still living there, keep reading! I’m going to give you a few tips and some things to consider as you’re preparing to get your rental on the market.

As a Realtor, I showed many homes to buyers over the years. One thing I frequently encountered were homes for sale inhabited by renters. How did I know renters were living there? Well, I began to see an unfortunate pattern with the conditions of the properties.

Are all renters bad? Of course, not! I have investor friends who’ve had the same established renters for over 20 years! I have been a renter myself. The ones I’m referring to are the ones that don’t care about your property. It doesn’t belong to them, and they treat it that way.

So, how do you go about listing the home and having showings that work for you? I’m going to give you a few things to plan for ahead of time and in the end will not only help bring peace but a sale!

What am I trying to avoid?

If you’ve never tried to sell a rental property before, you’re more than likely unaware of the potential pitfalls that can come along with the “showings” aspect of things. Any time you sell a property, you want that property to be in tip top shape, clean, organized with everything functioning so that you can get top dollar, right? There are things that can certainly affect buyers as they’re approaching your property.

Imagine you’re a buyer’s agent, you drive up to the house with your buyers, and oh wow…the grass hasn’t been cut all summer! The screen door is halfway hanging off the hinge. You enter the house, and there’s food all over the carpet, not to mention a million stains. Several piles of dirty clothes are strewn about. Oh, you don’t even want to visit the kitchen…the stacks of dirty dishes!

I’ve had clients literally take one step inside the front door, glance around and say, “let’s go!”.

Believe it or not, many people just don’t have the eyes to see beyond the awful curb appeal, a loose front door screen, and the appearance of an F1 tornado that recently struck the dirty laundry basket. Fortunately, if you’re proactive, there are things you can do to help keep your rental house as a viable option for many buyers, not just the one that can see past the disaster zone.

What can I do as the landlord to prepare for showings?

If the market’s great in your area and you’re in a financial position to be able to wait until the renters’ lease is up, then wait until they’re out, spruce it up, and you’ll be fine!

However, if you’re not in a position to do that, then you’ll have to list your house with the tenants in place.

Quick disclaimer…it’s super important for you or your property manager to either know your renters really well or to be able to do a drive-by to see what condition the property is in. These tips will be especially helpful if you suspect your renters are not taking care of your property!

  1. Curb appeal – If it’s spring or summer and the lawn’s a disaster, hire someone to cut the grass before you list the home and until you get it sold. This along can make a huge difference!
  • Offer to hire a cleaning person to get things ready! Some tenants may be hesitant about this idea, but you can incentivize and throw in a gift card and a little extra spending cash for the tenants to go out to eat and then out for dessert while the house is being cleaned! This will give the cleaners the time they need, and the tenants will be surprised that you’re being so generous.
  • Ask your tenants if everything is working properly. You should never wait until you list a house for sale to do this. If you’re a good landlord, you’re going to want to make sure that everything’s in good working order for your tenants while they live on the property.

If you or your management company haven’t stayed on top of things, you might want to do this a month or two before you pop the news that the house is for sale! You can better believe the tenants will be quick to tell you if things aren’t working right, and this will be to your advantage!

  • Give incentives for showing days. Offer to order pizza for your tenants every day you have a showing or provide pizza gift cards or something similar for those days so they don’t have to worry about cooking. This can help the tenants actually look forward to those showing times! Can this add up? It more than likely won’t be that much!
  • Stay calm! Now’s not the time to get upset with your tenants. You need them to like you during this process! The easier you are to get along with, the better this process is going to work out for everyone. Yes, you might have to bite your tongue along the way, but the bottom line is really the bottom line once you’re at closing and the funds are being wired into your account. Then you can move on with your life!


You can do things now that will set you up for success in getting that rental property sold. Be proactive and hire the necessary help to get the property in good shape, be kind and helpful, and even if things get a little bumpy along the way, stay calm. Once you get that property sold, you’ll be glad you did what you could to get the highest possible price. And then…you can move on to bigger and better things!

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