5 Ways Tenants Sabotage Home Sales

By Emilio DiSpirito, Realtor and Team Lead of DiSpirito Team with HomeSmart Professionals 

Uncertainty drives fear and fear can cause people to act out of control! One situation in which we see this happen most is with tenants when the property they are living in is listed for sale without the proper heads up! 

(See my blog how to list a property for sale with tenants – 3 Mistakes Sellers Should Avoid When Selling an Investment Property)

Some tenants are barely hanging on financially, and some tenants have called their rental, “home” for a decade or more. Not knowing who will be buying their “home” and what might happen to their living situation can cause room for concern and even worse… sabotage of your sale…

Tenants who engage in these behaviors can cost sellers between 5% to 20% in our estimations. 

How can an unruly tenant cause so much turmoil? Here is our list of 5 ways they can sabotage your home sale profits:

1.) Deny Access! Most leases state that a tenant must allow access to any representative or party needed to enter the premises within 24- or 48-hours’ notice. 

Here is an example of a list of times we need to enter the property during a sale:

•Initial walkthrough with seller 


•Prelist inspections


•Buyer inspections

•Contractors hired to make repairs 


•Final walkthrough

Throughout the transaction, there are many vital timeframes that need to be met, for a timely and profitable sale! Remember, homes that sit longer than the average days on market for that specific marketplace are perceived to have “something wrong”! This in itself, will take your chance of list price or better and throw it out the window, for sure!

2.) Linger around showings to lambast sellers and property! Most tenants are fantastic people! However, there are occasions where tenants lash out in any effort to dismantle any possibility of the property selling! 

Here are examples of what tenants have said in the past:

• “The landlord never maintains the property. She is selling because it needs too much work.”

• “There are a tremendous number of things wrong with this property…it’s in absolute ruins!”

• “They can’t keep any tenants in long enough for it to work.. people hate this place!”

Despite these childish antics, this situation can be more than enough for a nervous buyer to ask for an extended amount of concessions in forms of repairs or credits which could cost the seller thousands!!!

In some cases, tenants say this to buyers during the home inspection period, causing some buyers to take a hike and now you have a property that is going back on the market after inspections, pushing the public perception, “What’s wrong with this property?” We assure you, that will cost you! 

3.) Tenants stop paying rent! Selling an Investment property can take some time! It can sometimes take 6 months to a year to sell! Imagine the cost of a tenant or worse, tenants, not paying during this timeframe? It happens more often than we would like to think. You can toss thousands in the waste barrel here!

4.) Leave the place a mess! Check this video out, posted from my good friend Greg Rice of Nexus Property Management. It will give you a visual of the destruction that can be done! We are talking between $5,000 to $20,000 in some cases!

5.) Tenant won’t move out! Imagine taking a buyer on the final walkthrough to notice that the unit the buyer intends to move into has a tenant who won’t move out! This will pose a serious delay in closing or even worse, the transaction to completely fall apart leaving the owner with extensive eviction costs and placing the property back on market.

Here is a list of turmoil this can cause!

  • Buyers mortgage extension could cost buyers discount points which they request to pass on to you.
  • The contract may be considered void as seller had the responsibility to have property free and clean (if was added to contract)
  • You have to extend closing, pay for an eviction attorney and wait out the months it could take.
  • You offer the tenant a “bonus” to get out
  • This and many more.

While no situation will be the same, there are some key takeaways here:

•Treat tenants like people! Tell them before their “home” lists! 

•Hire a Realtor who lists and sells like properties! An agent who has a network of attorneys, mortgage professionals, inspectors, etc.

•Hitting these hurdles can and will cost you 10’s of thousands out of your pocket! 

•When buying or holding a non-owner-occupied property, hire a property manager to handle leases, tenants, maintenance requests, etc.

•Understand that it will all come together and work out when you take the proper steps!

Good luck out there!

Here is our companion story from last week: 

3 Mistakes Sellers Should Avoid When Selling an Investment Property –


Emilio DiSpirito

If you would have asked me what I wanted to be growing up, little Emilio would have told you “an archeologist” or “an architect” despite the fact that at age 8 I had my first lemonade stand, landscaping business and was recording my first “news show” on my boombox!  Well, I never was much good at trigonometry and did could not see myself traveling for months and possibly years at a time, so becoming an architect or archaeologist clearly did not happen!

Fast forward 26 years later and I’m running a team of the finest residential real estate professionals, own a media company and host my very own radio news show about real estate!

In September of 2017, I married my best friend, Jaclynn, and we have two wonderful children, Destinee and Emilio, V.  We have 3 dogs, one of which is a rescue and live in lovely Rhode Island. Jaclynn owns a high-end hair salon in addition to an on-location hair and makeup business!

For 7 years straight it seemed that I had put in more hours than the day had to give on my real estate business. 7 days a week, 14 to 16 hour days, without a break! Why? My friends and family did not understand the sheer magnitude of moving parts and services we offer to our clients during a transaction! One slip up or one missed call could mean make or break for someone’s dream home or even a lost deposit!

Running a team of like-minded, highly qualified and capable professionals has allowed me to offer a very streamlined, simplified and efficient approach to the sales process for our clients and allowed me to earn personal time again with my family while not missing a beat for my clients!

When I’m not working, I’m with my family, riding my mountain bike, eating at a number of local restaurants, enjoying live entertainment, hiking, skiing or reading!