With social distancing and other protective measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, people and businesses have had to creatively adjust to a new normal of functioning under these circumstances. Deemed an essential service across Canada, the real estate industry has continued to operate, though buyers and sellers are transacting very differently, to ensure the safety of everyone involved. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA), the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate (OSRE) and the Real Estate Council of BC (RECBC) continue to strongly recommend against open houses. This document contains best practices for hosting safer showings as an alternative to open houses and reflects that rental or home viewings are restricted to a
maximum of six people, subject to each person present being able to keep two metres away from every other person present at all times. To support public health measures and reduce the spread of COVID-19, we strongly recommend masks be worn by all individuals present at a showing.
By using the 10 best practices below, you can help ensure that you’ve assessed, prepared for, and helped prevent potential health risks to yourself, your family, clients, colleagues, and consumers when conducting showings.
- Consider Your Clients’ Best Interests First
- Understand and Stay Informed of Safety Protocols
- Clearly Communicate and Document Safety Protocols
- Reduce In-person Interactions by Leveraging Technology
- Plan in Advance
- Keep Safety in Mind During the Showing
- Consider the Requirements of Multi-Tenanted Properties
- Safely Conclude the Showing.
- Anticipate and Respond to Community Concerns
Selling a tenant-occupied property is always more complicated than selling an owner-occupied property. Selling a tenant-occupied property during a global pandemic adds another layer of complexity. As a REALTOR®, you have an important role to play in helping to ensure the health and safety of those involved – clients, tenants, members of the public and other real state professionals.
• Before listing the tenant-occupied property, talk to the seller and ask them to consider if
this is the best time to sell. Discuss the potential impacts on the seller and tenant(s),
such as the added stress and potential health and safety concerns of selling during the
pandemic. However, be cognisant that personal and financial circumstances may force
owners to sell their rental property while the home is still occupied.
• If the seller decides to proceed with the sale, advise them to talk to their tenants before
listing the property. The seller’s property is the tenant’s home, and it’s best that the seller
gives their tenants advance notice of the listing and tries to work with the tenants to
make arrangements that suit everyone’s needs.
• Talk to the seller about virtual options available for marketing and showing the property
to reduce the number of in-person showings.
• Discuss what measures need to be in place to ensure safe showings, and who will be
responsible for these measures. Document your recommendations and what was
agreed to, particularly when it comes to sanitizing and ventilating a property between
• Discuss with the seller who will be responsible for communicating with the tenant
regarding showings. Selling Tenant-Occupied Properties During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Updated April 2021)
• Plan for dealing with any concerns raised by the tenant under the Residential Tenancy
Act and/or any government announcements that may affect the tenancy. Review the
current guidance provided by the Residential Tenancy Branch to understand tenant
rights and obligations.
• In rare circumstances where owners and tenants can’t reach an agreement, inform
owners of resources such as the low-cost mediation services available through Mediate
BC. Depending on the nature of the conflict, it may also require legal advice, and/or
arbitration at the Residential Tenancy Branch.
• Discuss any concerns the tenant(s) may have with respect to showings and do what you
can to ease these concerns. Let them know what safety protocols you have in place to
reduce risks during showings (see below) and how you’ve adapted your practices to
follow public health orders, guidelines and recommendations.
• Let the tenant(s) know that proper notice for showing will be served to enable access, as
per the Residential Tenancy Act, and determine their preference for notifications around
• Stress that if a showing is scheduled and any of the occupants are exhibiting COVID-19
symptoms, have been exposed to COVID-19 or have travelled outside of the country
within the last 14 days, to contact you immediately so you can reschedule the viewing.
• Discuss expectations for cleaning and disinfecting the home before a viewing, including
door handles, counters, light switches and any other high-touch surfaces. Have the
tenant(s) consider leaving lights on and interior doors open (including closets) so all
areas prospective buyers may wish to see are accessible. It’s also important to consider
proper ventilation by reducing air recirculation and increasing the outdoor air intake as
much as possible, as recommended by WorkSafeBC.