Elderly tenant died last night rent is due in 4 days.

43 Replies

Many of the requirements in the law are the "default settings" if nothing is done (tenant disappears) or the two parties can't reach an agreement (one or both parties are being difficult).

In this case, it sounds like the surviving family wants to get this matter over with as smoothly as possible and not have their former loved one become a burden on the landlord (otherwise, why would they have bothered to let you know the rent would be late). The family probably understands the landlord is running a business and wants the matter settled without any hassles. They probably don't understand landlord-tenant law (unless they happen to own rental property or one of them is a lawyer).

When I was a student (and didn't have much money), I was at a mom-and-pop sandwich shop where another customer requested a special order of half of one sandwich and half of another. When one of the employees asked how they should ring up the order, the owner said the full price for both sandwiches. Legally correct, but bad PR. I scratched my head and decided never to eat there again.

I’m not hurting for money that was not my concern my philosophy is that I don’t want a single dime that’s not mine but I do want every dime that is mine.
I have been blessed with good fortune in my Realestate buy and hold strategy through hard work and long hours. I can afford to give back.

Before seeking advice from the BP community I told them I was very sorry for their loss and I appreciated them letting me know to take some time to figure out what’s next and keep me up to date I would be contacting them on the 4th

@Craig Ward - that's the piece of info that I needed to narrow down my earlier advice. 

Ask them if they want to write a new lease - if they say yes, set a date for that and include the expectation that they will need to have this month's rent at the time that they sign the new lease with you. Ask for a date that will work for them - chances are that they have the money and have been the ones paying the rent anyway (a guess on my part), but they just need the time to get everything else in order.

If they don't want to sign a lease, again give the expectation of when they will be out. Ask if they need any help getting stuff moved, and let them know that there will be other tenant candidates coming through. Start the screening process now for a new tenant - you've been in the rental business, so I won't go into advice on that unsolicited.

As to what is owed you - that depends on your lease and the local law. My lease specifically states that the "parties bound by lease includes all who lawfully succeed to their rights or take their places", which covers both the tenant and landlord sides. Local law will determine what your lease can say (if it says anything at all right now).

Originally posted by @Gregory B. :

I don’t think many people on this thread know how estates and probate works...

My stock broker is telling me I need to establish an estate plan. When the brokerage receives notice of my death, my accounts will be frozen until the probate court tells it what to do with the money.

Beneficiaries on my retirement accounts will be paid independently of what might be in my will.

https://www.thebalance.com/beneficiary-designation-for-retirement-accounts-4047008

Payable on death (POD) accounts are used to avoid probate on bank accounts.

https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-a-payable-on-death-or-pod-account-3505252

I don't know what happens to my personal property (my car and computer are old and not worth much) and I'll likely not provide the necessary 60-day notice of my departure to my landlord. I could not find any mention of "deceased tenant" in my lease, but there are "under any other circumstances permitted by state law" catch all phrases.

Nothing may be certain in this world except death and taxes, but both really suck.

Originally posted by @Craig Ward :

Confession time this is a 4/2 house and yes there are adult family members living in the home who are not on the lease

 to funny and typical BP only half the story as Paul Harvey would say .. or he would say now the rest of the story.

you have tenants. you probably need to get a new lease or evict if they wont move on their own.. but talk to a local attorney this cant be a hard question to solve.

@Craig Ward . Sorry for your predicament. in Texas, I believe the death of the tenant terminates the lease.  And, you have the option of doing a new lease with the remaining adults or probably having to evict. 

I would be interested to hear some of the Attorney types chime in on this one for my edification as well.

Thankfully I have not had a tenant die however my mother was a tenant that passed away. As soon as we notified her landlord he gave his condolences then gave the executor a copy of the lease agreement. He also gave an option that if we wanted we could go through the items take what we wanted and then pay him to clean out the property. But he did not give any waivers on late fees or for the eviction process. I might add neither do assisted living places or nursing homes. 

You have now given the family different choices, clean it out and pay on time, incur late fees, or pay you to clean out the property. 

The estate now is responsible for all debts including late fees, eviction fees etc. With that said no one knows what other creditors will be notifying the estate that your tenant owed them funds and how much the estate will have left after paying funeral expenses etc. Hopefully you did require a damage deposit, and possibly last months rent. 

When I responded earlier I had missed your posting that there are other family members living in the home who are not on the lease and you stated you would have another conversation with them on the 4th. Are any of these tenants over the age of 18?

My recommendation is have all current tenants over the age of 18 fill out an application and screen them like you would any future tenant to see if they qualify to even stay. You will also have to collect a new deposit from them plus first and last months rent if you require a last months rent. Anything you originally collected from the deceased tenant is now part of the estate and can not be applied towards any future tenant rents or deposits even if it is family. 

The only person you really should be dealing with is the executor (or trustee) of the estate of the the deceased. All dealings regarding the property of the deceased are made with the executor (or trustee.)

If the current occupants fail to qualify or do a new lease agreement then you need to continue as normal if a tenant fails to pay and deduct from the security deposit any funds due for unpaid rent, late fees, eviction, extra cleaning, damages, missing items, unpaid utilities. Any amounts due to the deceased need paid in the name of the deceased and mailed to either the last known address of the deceased (their rental unit) or an address provided by the executor (trustee) of the estate. 

Originally posted by @Jim Cummings :

@Craig Ward . Sorry for your predicament. in Texas, I believe the death of the tenant terminates the lease.  And, you have the option of doing a new lease with the remaining adults or probably having to evict. 

I would be interested to hear some of the Attorney types chime in on this one for my edification as well.

 It depends on the lease, but typically not. the estate is liable for the lease balance 

Sec. 92.014.

"Spot on imitation of Thomas S. :)"

Not even close, if you rush to file for eviction you are not going to collect a dime. :)

If family is suggesting they will pay but may be late you need to stay in touch with them. Set a date with them to pay. If  they stall or make excuses you then need to begin the process to evict as you would with any other tenant. You do not want them stalling in removing her belongings as that will cost you lost time in re-renting. It is a balancing act designed to collect as much rent as possible. Your tenants death is their issue, collecting rent is yours.

I would tell them that you require 2 months notice per the lease. This will allow you time to find a new tenant. Check your state codes as they may state that a lease is automatically terminated in the case of a death.

You can not bring her back. Business first , leave your emotions at home. All you can do is manage the situation to best protect your bottom line.  

seems to me that based on florida law the tenants that are still there and who have been there for some time now effectively have a tenancy at will of a month to month nature.  so you can start eviction proceedings as you would for any other type of non payment situation and should be able to get them evicted.  Now obviously, that isn't what you want, you want them to stay and continue to pay.  You should certainly tread lightly and give them some time to grieve but they do need to understand that it's a business and if they can't pay you, you can't pay your mortgage.  Give it a maximum of 2 weeks for them to get a plan in place to get you paid and if you don't see payment, then you should definitely consult an attorney.   Hopefully you have a security deposit that will at least cover you for a months rent if for some reason they aren't able to pay and let this be a lesson to you that you should make all people over the age of 18 in the home be on the lease.

I'm telling you, walk lightly, but carry a big stick!  

Maybe because being in the mortgage industry and being a landlord for so long, I'm jaded.  But it has been my experience over the years that people will lie thru their teeth and will screw thier fellow man/woman over in a second if they think it will benefit them.  

Of course you want to be nice during this time, but if you don't stand firm and let the family members know you mean business, then the more time that passes, the more likely you will become less relevant and won't be compensated.    

Update I did receive that months rent and a new lease is signed with the adults that reside there.
Thank you for all the advice it’s really nice to have this knowledge base to draw upon