Q: We recently renewed our lease for another year. The property manager wants to tour my house with potential new tenants. Our lease does not end for nine months. This seems off, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. What is our recourse?
A: This does seem odd, but there may be a valid reason to start now. In tropical areas popular with “snowbirds,” it is necessary to find next year’s tenant well in advance since most potential tenants leave for cooler weather in the spring.
As with most landlord and tenant questions, the first step is to review your lease carefully. Many leases will contain a clause dealing with showing the property to prospective tenants.
Most leases I have seen limit showings to the last two months of the term, but yours may be different. You will be bound by what you agreed to. If your lease is silent on the issue, the property manager must give you notice of the visit at least 12 hours in advance, and the showing must occur a reasonable time.
You will need to cooperate with this, but the manager will need to consider your needs when scheduling.
Your landlord may access your home when necessary but may not abuse this right or use it to harass you.
The key to this is that both the landlord and the tenant need to act reasonably. But determining what is reasonable can change depending on condition. What was reasonable before COVID may not be now.
While the pandemic persists, your landlord should limit access and take precautions when a visit is necessary. If you are at greater risk, it would be reasonable to restrict access severely.
It might be a good idea for the property manager to create a video tour instead of bringing casual prospects to the house. You can require everyone to wear a mask and observe the recommended precautions.
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. H e practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter GarySingerLaw..