When a lease comes up and your tenant decides they are moving, you have to make a decision on whether you will show the place to new potential lessees before your current tenant’s lease runs out. I’ve always opted not to simply because I don’t want to disturb the current renters while they are living there, but here recently I thought maybe I’m being too nice and I should try to turn the unit over quicker. Big mistake!

We had a tenant that had mentioned they had fish when they applied to rent. We have a no pet policy, but we thought, fish? – no big deal. Well, when he said fish, he meant FISH and then some! But he always kept his place up really nice and he was a super nice guy and great tenant. Bryon had been over there and he’d offered us dinner before, etc. So, we thought, well maybe we could show the place at the end of his lease to see if we can find someone sooner – his place is always so nice.

Well, when people are moving – the place is not so nice. Boxes are going to be everywhere, etc. Moving is stressful, right? Didn’t think too much about that at the time. I asked our tenant in advance if we could bring someone by on Monday at 1pm. I told him on Friday so he would have plenty of notice. He was very nice about it – he’s a very nice guy like I mentioned. He even left us a frappuccino in his fridge when he moved – how nice, right?! And he’s given us brats for dinner (best brats I’ve ever had, by the way) before while we were fixing up a unit. I love tenants like that. Makes this whole landlord thing worthwhile. He did mention there might be boxes, but he’d try to clean the place up, etc. Ok, no problem.

I was planning to show the place to a granddaughter in her 20’s and her grandmother who was in her 60’s. They were very nice. I met them at the front of the building and walked them up. Rang the doorbell a few times. He’s not there which is fine. I told him he didn’t need to be there. Unlocked the door and we entered into the Costa Rican jungle. It was muggy as heck. There were aquariums all over the dining room floor – like 10 of them. The granddaughter says, “Does he have fish?”. I say, oh yes, he has fish but I didn’t look inside any of the aquariums – we just kind of walked right past them.

Already I’m having a bad feeling like we should turn around and walk out but there seemed to be no turning back – we had momentum. The grandmother was already moving towards the bedrooms. Then, the granddaughter gets ahead of her and we are all walking down the hallway towards the master bedroom. Granddaughter is in the front, then grandmother, then me watching it all unfold like we are in a horror movie. It actually felt like that for some reason. I think because I could almost feel their trepidation – it’s almost like they knew something that I didn’t.

Then, the daughter peeks her head into the master bedroom and says, “Is that a.. Is that a.. Oh my gosh I’m out of here. I can’t be in here with a snake.” Then, her grandmother screams, “SNAKE!!!!!”, and literally pushes me against the wall and runs past me. I run after them both because they have me sufficiently freaked out. They proceed to run their way completely out of the building and I am chasing after them apologizing. The grandmother was so nice. She was breathless and said, “Don’t you feel bad! Don’t you feel bad!”. And I just kept saying, “I’m so sorry…”.  They quickly walked to their car.

So, the moral of the story for me is: don’t show the place before the current tenant is out. They have no incentive to make it look nice and especially if they are in the process of moving and especially if they have a pet snake. It felt like we were in a bad movie when we walked into the place. Little did I know, we were on the set of the movie, Anaconda. It was muggy in there because he had so many aquarium pets. That was just one.

I’m sufficiently traumatized that I don’t think I’ll ever bring myself to show a place before the tenant is out again! And probably that’s for the best. Because also people don’t want to see how someone else has lived in the place they are about to rent anyway. They want fresh paint, no smells – they want it to feel like new. Real Estate lesson 101. Too bad we literally scared away the best potential tenant we’ve had thus far. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

One good thing, this tenant left the place spotless and with no problems. It was beautiful after he moved out which I was a tiny bit worried about after seeing all the aquarium pets. He even spackled all the holes in the wall from wall hangings.  Fish and reptile owners get a thumbs up in my book. Dogs and cats tend to do more damage. So, now it shows really well. If only I had just waited.  Unlike most horror movies, this one has a happy ending.  🙂

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