Be Sensitive, and Be Careful When Dealing With The Death Of A Tenant
If there’s one thing most San Fernando Valley landlords and property managers fear to deal with, it is the death of a tenant. Unfortunately, most owners and managers in don’t have a clue how to handle such an event. When you experience the death of a tenant, you have to be careful. This is because if you don’t handle it well, you may run into legal problems. And you need to remain sensitive to the family and friends of your deceased tenant during this period. More importantly, you need to ensure you carefully follow legal procedures. If you are not sure how to deal with the death of a tenant, this article will give you some helpful ideas.
Review the Lease Agreement
The first thing you need to do is to review your lease agreement. This will help you to understand how to deal with the situation. Check where your lease agreement referenced who is liable for disposition or storage of the deceased’s personal property. If this is not referenced, you may be stuck with the tenant’s property if you can’t find the next of kin. And it’s good to review all your leases to see if there is a provision. If not, you may want to generate an addendum that addresses this situation. The addendum can say “In cases of abandonement or death” to be a little less jarring.
Check the State Laws
You need to check your state laws to understand what you can do or not do when a tenant dies in your rental property. The state law as concerning handling the death of a tenant varies. While some states allow the landlord to take the possession of the rental property within 28 days of the tenant’s death, other states have law that allows the landlord to take possession of the apartment 60 days after the death of a tenant if the rent is not paid and there are no other tenants in the unit. Again, check and see exactly what the right information is for your particular city or state.
Your Responsibilities As a Landlord or Property Manager
As a landlord or property manager, it is your responsibility to handle certain responsibilities. Some of your responsibilities in this scenario include:
- Secure the property of the tenant
- Lock all doors and windows and change the locks if legally permitted
- Take the video of the condition of the property upon your entrance
- Always ensure you accompany deceased’s’ family or friends whenever they want to enter the apartment.
- Once the court names an executor, make sure you provide the executor with the key. Before you do that, ensure you see proof of executor status.
In most cases, official notice of the death of a tenant ends the month-to-month lease. However, states laws vary. The death of a tenant does not mean that a fixed lease has come to an end and the property is available for rent to a tenant. Most standard leases have information about heirs and successors.
Another issue you will have to handle is the security deposit. The security deposit paid by the deceased tenant may go towards cleaning costs, payment of rent, and property damage.
Make sure you provide a detailed list of all expenditures to the executor. You can submit a claim to the estate through the probate court if the security deposit is insufficient to cover the cost. If there are funds left from the security deposit, it is your responsibility to send the executor a check for the amount of made out to “The Estate of Deceased’s Name”.
Again, be sensitive, and be careful.