Tenant rights. Realtor Does and Dont’s Learn from this…
Ok so here is a situation that happened to me last night. I had clients coming down from out of state to look at a property that was listed on the MLS as vacant. When I got there I was surprised to find out that the home was actually occupied. Now when I conversed with the gentleman on site he conveyed to me that they were moving back into the home until it they sold it, implying he was the owner. I asked permission on site, and at no point did this person state that he was a tenant, but he did state that it was perfectly all right to show the property.
So I let my clients know not to expect an empty house and that I had gained permission from whom I thought was the owner. While I was waiting I was approached by the significant other whom I told as a courtesy I had contacted the agent to have her update the listing to occupied, which I did convey to the agent as a common industry courtesy. The comment from this lovely lady was that “he” has been trying to sell the property and I was ok to show the property again indicating ownership in my mind.
I even joked with the Gentleman and laughed with the daughter because she had magic markered tattoos on her arm. A skill that my daughter also shares and likes to flaunt.
The showing was lovely, I even bonded with their sweet lab called Maggie. In the home, my client asked about how a short sale works and I explained that it is a long process and not a quick close. They would not only need the seller’s approval, but also the approval of the bank. The daughter did come out and ask if she could have a sorbe out of the refrigerator and she smiled at me. Then we politely thanked them and took our leave.
I should have sensed the stress when the lady started to name the faults in the home, but I did not catch it because they were nice people, hospitable and friendly. I was given no reason to think anything wrong.
Now here is where you walk a fine line in our industry. These tenants automatically contacted the owner to inform the owner that I had told the tenants directly that they had to be out of their home within 30 days and that I was extremely rude. Rude enough to have her daughter in tears. In turn the owner called the listing agent to tell her that he was going to give me a piece of his mind. I told her not to worry that I would be happy to speak to the owner to clear up any misunderstandings.
Now here are the legalities of the situation. The actual owner did not inform the Realtor that there were tenants in the property. These tenants have the rights under tenant laws to 24 hours advance notice to show a property. 24-hour notice was not given, as there was no indication the home was occupied in the MLS. The tenant could file a complaint with the Department of Planning and Development in your local State that the seller did not give proper notice to the Realtor, but that is about all. Now if the Owner told the realtor to just show the property and did not acknowledge the tenants, then they would have a case against the owner. In this case, the owner immediately conveyed the tenant’s information after the showing and rectified the situation. If the tenants were to file this, the first thing that would be asked if the seller took appropriate actions to correct the situation.
Bottom line here. nothing like that happened. Me, a broker for over 20 years, a home save advocate, would NEVER tell someone (Especially someone who thought this was the owner up front) they had to vacate a property. I certainly know better than that. I have never had to call the sheriff to evict anyone, as I do not operate this way. I made the assumption they were the owners. I based this assumption on the friendly response received and the conversations that transpired. IF this should happen again, I will make sure to better myself and ask up front if they are the owners or a tenant. Then I would explain tenant rights and educate them on the process. In our industry there are too many things we take for granted.
After speaking with the agent we shared a laugh and realized that these tenants are just scared. They know it is a short sale situation, and they just moved in. The only conversation I had in the home was that short sales take time, and that the bank would have to approve the transaction and that it is not a quick close. So what they probable heard was “quick close” and panicked.
As a Realtor we run into this every once in a while. Understand, It is the responsibility of the Owner to inform their Agent the second a vacant home is occupied. We have to know if we are in a hostile situation or if we need to abide by tenant laws. It is not only for our safety but the safety of the potential clients who may be interested in your home.
There was no fault in this situation, just misunderstanindg. Anytime you have an investment or tenant occupied property, we as your representative need to have an opportunity to speak with the tenants to give them a comfort zone to know that they are not going to be left out of the loop and that there are timelines even after ownership in a home transfers to the new owner that need to be taken into consideration. A good agent will make sure that not only is there good communication but that the tenant is not just booted out onto the street. If a tenant is in a lease, they need to be bought out of that lease up front in the negotiations or that lease stays intact, if the tenant is month to month it still allow 30 days to relocate after the close of escrow unless the tenant is in agreement to leave sooner depending on the state, some have 60 days.
So in this particular situation, even if they get to contract they are not out in the street within 30 days. If you are a tenant BREATH talk to the realtor, talk to the owner and make sure they know to respect the Tenant laws. Heck you may even be able to qualify to buy the home you are renting. Did you know that over half of my tenant occupants actually end up buying the home. I usually find that most are open to it, it just that no one asked them.
The only mistake made here was communication timing. As to these particular tenants, they did not have to convey that I told them to “get out in 30 days” They simply needed to tell the owner, hey remember our rights, if you sell please make sure you negotiate our agreement and to respect our right of 24 hour advanced notice. If the word “ Tenants” would have come out at any time when talking with them up front, in this same situation, I again would have asked permission the only difference is I would have disclosed tenant rights to them. up front.
Misunderstandings lead to stress, which is something we all need a little less of. Hey nobody’s perfect, including me. I learned another lesson today and I am grateful to have done so.