If you’re a landlord who owns an investment property (bravo, by the way!) and are looking for a new tenant, you need to get your rental space up to snuff—and you need to know your facts.

By Jennifer Billock | January 21, 2021

What are the rules for showing an apartment if someone is currently living there? Typically, you must give your existing tenant at least 24 hours’ notice for an apartment showing.

Real estate agent Mihal Gartenberg, of Warburg Realty in New York City, says that most leases just state “reasonable” notice, but 24 hours is a good rule of thumb since “reasonable” can mean different things to different people. There also might be a city or county rental law that stipulates a certain amount of time, so be sure to check that as well as the current lease (if there is one) before scheduling any showings.

Kate Ziegler and Jack Romano, real estate agents with Arborview Realty in Boston, note that doesn’t mean last-minute showings shouldn’t be considered, though. If prospective renters request showings on short notice, you can always run that request by the current tenants to see if that fits into their schedule.

Also, remember to comply with all Fair Housing rules and regulations. Ziegler and Romano recommend reading up on Fair Housing and local regulations if you’re planning to take on your own tenant search. Even turning down a showing, let alone a rental application, based on race, religion, voucher status, or other protected classes can be a major liability for an owner or an agent.

If you can show the apartment on a nice day, try to do that. If it’s winter and dreary outside all the time, make sure you take top-notch pictures for the listing. Open the blinds and turn off the lights, keep your reflection out of images, and capture multiple shots for each room.

“Remember that prospective tenants will first see the home on a screen,” Ziegler and Romano say. “First impressions and good images matter more than ever.”

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