Mayor issues guidance for open houses, apartment showings

by Timothy Inklebarger

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh

Business closures and regular announcements about state and local government efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak have come at breakneck speed over the last week. On Friday, Mayor Martin J. Walsh sent a letter to landlords, real estate agents and rental brokers telling them to change their practices on property showings.

“Tenants, especially college students, are looking to sublet or otherwise move from their current living situation very quickly,” Walsh wrote. “We are asking all brokers to work closely with these tenants to identify suitable alternatives to an in-person showing to the greatest extent possible.”

The letter continued with the following guidance:

  • Brokers should use photos, videos and written descriptions to showcase properties whenever possible.
  • Rental brokers should not show clients occupied properties. Instead, they should “work out safe protocols for showing occupied units virtually.” If such arrangements can’t be made, the mayor asked rental brokers to give existing tenants as much advance notice as possible, minimize contact with others during the showing, and ensure all parties wash their hands often and use hand sanitizer. Additionally, after the showing, all surfaces that were touched should be wiped down.
  • Do not allow any prospective tenant who is ill to view a unit in person.
  • Open houses should not be held to market properties for rent or sale. Individual showings for properties for sale should mirror the above guidelines for rental showings, including minimizing contact with others, staying six feet away from others, washing hands frequently, using hand sanitizer and wiping down surfaces.

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