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How Should I Show My Space to Renters During COVID-19?

You should avoid contact as much as possible—which is why we're recommending self-guided viewings for potential subletters.


Things that seemed normal a few months ago—like meeting up with a real estate broker to look at a bunch of different rentals in one afternoon, or visiting a stranger's house to see about subletting their apartment—now feel unsafe and maybe even irresponsible. We've gathered all the resources, tools, and advice we can find to help landlords and leaseholders show their space while following public health safety guidelines.

Are in-person showings allowed?

Traditional apartment viewings, where a broker meets a potential tenant and they tour the place together, are out-of-bounds in many major cities (or else strongly discouraged). Here are some cities with clear guidance on in-person showings:

  • New York City: In-person viewings are not allowed. Although the real estate industry has been classified as “essential,” all viewings must happen virtually under the state’s PAUSE order.
  • San Francisco: All viewings must be virtual unless “a virtual viewing is not feasible”—in which case, the showing must be limited to one broker and two visitors from the same household. In-person visits are never allowed if the occupant is still residing in the unit.
  • Chicago: Virtual showings are preferred, but in-person showings are allowed as long as the unit is vacant or owner-occupied and it’s limited to no more than four people. Showings of occupied units are not allowed.

When shelter-in-place orders begin to lift, so will these restrictions—but you'll still be encouraged to do everything you can do avoid unnecessary contact between strangers for a long time. That's why we recommend self-guided viewings for anyone trying to market their rental during this time.

What are self-guided viewings?

Self-touring technology allows you to show your unit to prospective new renters without being there. Even if the renters taking a tour aren't wearing masks, current guidance from the CDC states that droplets and traces of the coronavirus remain on surfaces and in the air for no more than an hour. That's why self-guided viewings offer peace of mind during this time—you're doing as much as possible to market your rental without putting anyone at risk.

How do self-guided viewings work?

The best way to get self-guided viewings set up depends on your situation:

  • If you're the owner of a building looking to make a longer-term investment, you can install smart access technology on your front door and unit doors. This is the safest way to offer self-guided viewings because it lets you provide renters with one-time codes. We recommend Latch or igloohome.
  • If you're the leaseholder, or a landlord who wants to try this out before making a big investment, then you can set up self-guided viewings by using a smart keybox. Using a regular keybox that you buy yourself poses a lot of security risks, so we suggest you work with a company that's built security software around the keybox hardware, like Flip.

Here's how self-guided viewings work in a few steps:

  1. Interested tenants can schedule a viewing slot on their own
  2. Before their time-window starts, they get sent a one-time code
  3. They use the code to open the keybox and let themselves inside
  4. You can make sure they see instructions or notes during their viewing if you're worried they may miss something
  5. If they want to apply, they head to the application

Are self-guided viewings possible if the outgoing tenant hasn't left?

If you're renting out your place and you haven't left yet, then you'll need to show your apartment while you’re still living there. In this situation self-guided viewings are still better than the traditional meet-and-greet. Here's why: when a potential renter schedules a viewing, you can leave your apartment for the length of the visit, plus an additional half-hour. According to experts, the virus can only remain airborne for a period of 30 minutes.

Although we ask Flip viewers to wear masks and gloves during their viewings, we also recommend that you sanitize any hard surfaces, such as countertops or door handles, after a viewing.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.


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