Can a tenant refuse a landlord’s request to show their rental?

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Can a tenant refuse a landlord’s request to show their rental?

Tenant states that they have the right to be in the rental when prospective applicants are viewing the place. They are concerned that someone might steal their valuables. I have told them to hide their valuables from view. Tenant still insists that I cannot show the place unless they are present. Do they have any legal rights here? I have found no WI state law that supports that assumption. Because the property is in WI getting someone to move in when it’s the dead of winter can be a problem. I have given the tenants incentives to move out earlier than the end of their lease.

Asked on August 21, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You must give the renter reasonable notice (usually 24 hours, though longer is better) for any non-emergency entrances (e.g. for  showing to perspective tenants). It's best to put the notice in writing, ideally in some way you can prove delivery--email w/receipt, faxes, etc. You also can only go in at reasonable times (e.g. 9 - 5) and not too often (e.g. not a  prospective tenant or two a day, for a week solid).

However, if you comply with all that, the tenant cannot demand that he or she be home. They can be there for the showing, if they like; and they can certainly work with you to schedule it for when they are around; but they have no absolute right to require that they be present. Note that if anything is stolen or damaged, though, you would be liable.


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