022If you’ve ever tried to sell an apartment with a tenant in it, you already know what a challenge it can be.  Tenants typically don’t take care of the place like the owner would, and it can feel like you’re at their mercy.  Whether it’s the pile of dirty laundry, or the worn out couch, a messy tenant doesn’t have to sink your sale.

Here are four ways you can handle messy tenants and still get your client a sale.

1.  Ask the seller to consider giving the tenant an incentive for keeping the place tidy. If your seller has a good relationship with the tenant and has given them notice that they will be selling, way in advance, some times it may be as simple as just asking them to be neater. Other tenants, simply don’t care, and will need an incentive. An incentive could be monetary, i.e. an extra $500 when they move out, or something more intangible, like a glowing reference for their next apartment (a good lease will require tenants to keep a place orderly).

2. Avoid last minute showings whenever possible. The more advance notice you give the tenant, the more time they will have to prepare. In some cases the tenant wants to be helpful, but doesn’t always have enough time to clean up. Help them, help you, by giving them as much notice as possible.

3. Hire a professional stager. If the tenant has clutter throughout and their taste is too taste specific for buyers, getting some professional help may be the answer. When I’ve worked with clients in this situation, just a few small tweaks, like adding storage boxes, or swapping out the sofa, have made all the difference. If storage is needed, the extra $125 – $200 a month could be worth the seller’s investment to get a faster sale.

4. Build a relationship with the tenant. Offer to help the tenant find their next apartment, perhaps at a discount. Fear of not finding their next place could be a driving force behind them not helping the apartment to show at its best. They don’t want to be out of a home before they’ve found a new one. Talk to them and find out what their needs are and offer to help.