Tenant Suicide- Please chime in.

22 Replies

We had a tenant that committed suicide in one of our units. He hadn't paid rent this month, and we became concerned after 10 days went by. We posted a  Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate on the 10th day, and never heard back, which was extremely unlike him. So, my husband went over and noticed through the window that his dog was running around, and his cell phone was on the table. He knocked and walked slightly in the doorway, calling out the  tenants name, when he noticed the tenants legs with boots on, hanging outside of the bathroom tub, which he could see from the door.  You can guess the rest from there-he had shot himself in the tub. My husband called the police immediately, who came to the scene and then notified his family, and his family came to the house. The cops told my husband to ask the family what they wanted done with his things, and my husband asked, and they told my husband that they didn't want anything inside of the house-none of his belongings, and to just keep it or throw it all away. My concern is- is this legal? What would you do?

Thank you! P.S. We are in the state of PA, if that matters. 

I would have a garage sale  sell what U can and give to charity in his name .. let folks have the rest for free.

and send a letter to next of kin that that is what you plan to do and are doing. 

its not that rare I have had it happen twice..  both times was eviction process...  both times Sad beyond measure.

@Jay Hinrichs is it okay to do all that? Should i have it in writing from family?

I was going over there with my maintenance team to turn the place around and fix up and keep what we can and throw out the rest. The appliances are like brand new and his mom said since no rent was payed this month just keep everything. Washer and dryers are new along with stove and fridge for most part everything else can be thrown out.

That happened to me last month, very disturbing to say the least. I'm sorry you or anyone has to go through it. In my case the family came and just cleared everything out with a trailer in one day then I didn't hear anything else. Surely they don't want any reminders of their 24 year old daughter's untimely demise. In your case it sounds like the same thing and I would just move forward with liquidation of the items and get the unit re-rented asap. It's a bummer all around.

you are likely going to b e dealing with your local laws surrounding abandoned property. I would start by researching there. technically, any possessions would be transferred to the estate/next of kin. to be on the safe side, you can request the family sign something saying they are abandoning all property left behind, including security deposit. as always, make sure you comply with local laws. once it is considered abondonded property and you take possession, you should eb free to sell anything you want to recover your damages.

You need to speak with your landlord/tenant attorney.  If you don't have one, today is the day to find one.  When someone dies, their assets and liabilities become their "estate".  That estate has obligations, just like the decedent.  All the stuff in the property is part of their estate.  If you dispose of it improperly, someone else who is owed money by the estate could potentially come after you.

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After reading this thread I got a phone call from my PM in Australia. I found out one of my tenants died in a car crash, make matters worst they are four weeks late in rent and PM have start court proceedings. This will definitely tug on the judges heart strings now.

We had a tenant go on a religious mission trip and get murdered.  I think it took his family a few weeks to gather his things and he was behind on rent.  I gave them as much time as they needed 

Brie Schmidt, Real Estate Agent in Illinois (#471.018287) and Wisconsin (#57846-90)

This is unfortunate but non payment and vacancies do happen. I have had to collect rent due from family when a tenant dies owing money or the family does not clear out the unit fast enough.

Better to get it from immediate family than having to go after the estate.

It's just business.

Contact the emergency contact listed on the application. If none ask a lawyer.

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

This is unfortunate but non payment and vacancies do happen. I have had to collect rent due from family when a tenant dies owing money or the family does not clear out the unit fast enough.

Better to get it from immediate family than having to go after the estate.

It's just business.

YOur all heart  :) 

That's a sad story. Not that it's material to the situation, but what ended up happening with his dog? Did his family take the dog? And did the police treat the scene like any type of crime scene, where you didn't have access to it for a certain period of time? 

Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs :
Originally posted by @Thomas S.:

This is unfortunate but non payment and vacancies do happen. I have had to collect rent due from family when a tenant dies owing money or the family does not clear out the unit fast enough.

Better to get it from immediate family than having to go after the estate.

It's just business.

YOur all heart  :) 

 I had to pay rent on my grandma's apartment after she passed away, based on a requirement for 30 days notice.

This is an unfortunate situation, but I am glad to see everyone's input on the subject. I would definitely get an attorney involved to ensure you are following the proper legal steps with in the state the property is located in. 

Melissa Gittens, Real Estate Agent in CT (#REB.0790812)
(203) 400-0918
Originally posted by @Jon Holdman :
Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs:
Originally posted by @Thomas S.:

This is unfortunate but non payment and vacancies do happen. I have had to collect rent due from family when a tenant dies owing money or the family does not clear out the unit fast enough.

Better to get it from immediate family than having to go after the estate.

It's just business.

YOur all heart  :) 

 I had to pay rent on my grandma's apartment after she passed away, based on a requirement for 30 days notice.

 I guess there are a few ways to handle debt at death.. I have been the trustee on one relative passing and they had about 70k in outstanding credit card debt.. I negotiated that down to 5k..  and a few other debts...

for one rent check I have a hard time thinking anyone is going to pursue that but then there are those that are all business and no heart .. LOL..

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

This is unfortunate but non payment and vacancies do happen. I have had to collect rent due from family when a tenant dies owing money or the family does not clear out the unit fast enough.

Better to get it from immediate family than having to go after the estate.

It's just business.

A man after my own heart! You make me swoon!

I agree with everyone's suggestion to talk to an attorney.  His belongings are part of his estate, which might affect what you can do with them.

If it gets to the point where the stuff is yours, free and clear... I would go through the stuff, and either donate or sell usable items like clothing and furniture.  If you find anything really personal - like photos, or jewelry, or letters to a sweetheart - put those in a box and keep them.  His family might not be interested in that stuff now, but maybe a few years down the line they would like to have it.  If you don't hear from them for, say, 10 years, then respectfully dispose of those things.  That's just me, though.

You might also ask the attorney what the law is about disclosing the death to future tenants or buyers.  I think if you sell the property in the future, you may have to disclose it to the buyers, but I'm not sure what you have to do for future tenants.

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