The Education of Tenants and Access to Property for Showings
At Berlin Patten Ebling, we have had several inquiries concerning an investor’s and landlord’s home showings. Specifically, a tenant refusing to provide access to a home due to COVID-19 fears. And while the State of Florida and the rest of the country are working on placing COVID-19 in the rear-view mirror, there is still potential liability and litigation possible if the parties cannot amicably cooperate to allow access to the dwelling.
In Florida, a tenant may not unreasonably withhold consent to a landlord to exhibit a dwelling unit to prospective and actual purchasers. This would include any contractors and vendors that may be required to perform property repairs and inspections on behalf of a seller and a buyer pursuant to their respective contractual duties and obligations under a FAR/BAR real estate purchase contract. In better times, access to a landlord’s property was not unduly difficult. However, today it has become more common that a tenant will refuse access to the property. Any delays may have a significant impact on a seller’s and buyer’s contractual rights and obligations. If a buyer and seller do not agree to extend a pertinent deadline in a form of a signed addendum (best practices), a buyer may jeopardize a deposit, or a seller may be deemed by a buyer to be in breach that could allow the buyer to walk away from the closing table with the buyer’s deposit.
The best solution is to educate a tenant on a landlord’s right statutory right to market a property to potential purchasers and further advise the tenant cannot unreasonably withhold access to the property when it is under contract to the buyer’s and seller’s vendors and contractors. Additionally, let a tenant know immediately when a repair and/or repair request was made by a buyer or seller to ensure reasonable notice for access to the property and what precautions will be taken to protect all who are present. And if a tenant still will not comply with reasonable property access, a landlord shall have the appropriate period of time to provide a tenant with a statutory default notice and an opportunity to cure, and thereafter seek court compliance to enforce reasonable access to the property.
If a landlord’s realtor is unable to market a property because the property’s tenant has become uncooperative, a landlord may miss out on a sale or inadvertently allow a buyer to walk. At Berlin Patten Ebling, we strongly believe it is always better to be proactive rather than reactive (and often sorry!). And as always, if you have any questions about the foregoing, we urge you to consult with your local real estate attorney.
Michael Schuchat, Esq. email@example.com
Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC
This communication is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship, and to the extent anything contained herein could be construed as legal advice or guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own attorney before relying upon any information contained herein.
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