Hey BP hope all is well,
I went through a terrible experience this past week and wanted to share it with the BP community in the hopes that some people may learn from it.
I say this with much regret but over the weekend one of my tenants committed suicide. To add to this terrible situation and make matters worse I was the person who discovered the body. Now I won’t get into specific details into how the act was committed and what is believed to be the motive. But I do want to touch on the Landlord side of the situation and the damage control measures that should be done when something like this occurs.
Initial shock – after discovering the tenant I went into shock and had no idea what to do. I felt scared, nervous, surprised. A ton of emotions and thoughts began racing through my mind. After a few minutes I immediately called Law Enforcement who responded to the scene pretty quickly. Because I was the landlord and made the discovery I was briefly considered a suspect, wasn’t allowed to leave the scene, and had to answer questions to police officers and detectives. Eventually within a few hours I was released from the suspect list and detectives found that it was a suicide and no foul play was involved.
Now because I had other tenants in the unit and throughout the building I was unsure if I should disclose what occurred or if I was legally required to disclose. Although legally disclosure isn’t required I made a moral decision and decide to inform the other tenants within the property. I understood that with disclosure I risked losing tenants but I felt it was the right thing to do.
After informing the tenants some tenants made request to be let out their lease. Now in the situation I wasn’t sure what textbook protocol was or if legally I was required to do so. I made a few calls to other real estate professionals and was informed that legally there was no law or rule stating that the tenants had to be released, so I had a judgment call to make. Putting myself in their position I decided to release the tenants although financially it would place a burden. I knew that if I were in their shoes I wouldn’t want to stay either. So I bit the bullet and let them go.
In regards to the area where the suicide is committed I had no idea what the rules where in terms of cleaning up the space. So after more research I learned that because deceased bodies are considered bio hazardous waste I had to hire a professional bio hazardous cleaning company. They had to cut and remove any surface or areas where bodily waste was found, clean the area with special cleaning liquids, and filter the air with o-zone machines.
Some of you may be thinking what about the tenants possession? Because the tenant had no family I was informed that his possessions could be trashed. I felt very bad because I was hoping he had some family around who may want his belongings but that wasn’t the case so I had it disposed.
My plans moving forward are unclear I’m considering selling the property but in the event that I am unable to I will have to resort to finding more tenants.
This scenario is a scenario I wouldn’t wish on any landlord I would rather go through a thousand evictions before going through this process again. As members of BP we hear a lot of success stories but there are scenarios where being a landlord can be difficult. If there is anyone who has been through a similar situation I would like to hear how you responded to the matter and how you bounced back from the situation. Was the property sold? Were new tenants found or did you leave the business altogether?
Dang...sorry to hear this. Unfortunately I don't have any experience dealing this kind of situation either. but we should definitely request to make a sub forum name "landlord honor story" Lot of lession will be learn
Thanks ... the "landlord horror stories" is a great idea! ... any idea on how to go about getting this done?
wow, very traumatic experience for you, sorry you had to deal with it all. I think you did the right thing by giving your other tenants the option that you did. I'm not a LL yet so I don't have any experience or advice to offer but I did want to offer some moral support.
Good luck as you move forward. ME
@Michael Eastland I appreciate the moral support ... good luck to you as well.
First of all, condolences, Carlos. Must have been awful.
When I was a realtor, my state required disclosure of any death within the last five years, I believe. Now this was for the sale of a property, not a rental. But my experience was there are certain cultures that would never consider living in a home where a death has occurred. So keep in mind that for the foreseeable future, you are probably going to have to disclose this to potential tenants, as surely they will learn about it from existing tenants, which is not a situation you want to be in either. After some time has passed, the need to do this should lessen, and ultimately be completely unnecessary.
If you are intending to sell, you'll definitely want to check your state disclosure laws on this matter.
Hopefully any of the tenants you let out of their lease understand they need to pay to current. Good luck with this.
I wouldn't let the other tenants out of their leases. Why would they want to move because someone in another unit killed themselves? I bet a lot of apartment buildings have had a suicide. It shouldn't taint the entire building.
When you go to re-rent this unit, are you going to let all prospective tenants know what happened to the previous tenant? I wouldn't. It will make it harder to rent.
I would be furious with this guy for putting you through this. Suicide is one of those cowardly acts that has a huge effect on others. In this case, it was you. If he wanted to kill himself, he should have gone to a park or somewhere to do it. Hopefully some of his possessions had value to help pay for this mess he caused that you had to clean up.
Good luck. Too bad you were a suspect. I had a house last year that I suspected my tenants were dead in. The phone was busy for days and the mailbox was overflowing. I called the police to do a "welfare check". (I found this ironic since my tenant was literally on welfare.) As it turned out, she was in the hospital and they were able to look into the records and see that an ambulance had come for her. In the future, you may want to have the police with you when you enter a potential crime scene.
@Rob K. I agree - I wouldn't have let the tenants out of their leases either, if it were me. But at this point, I don't think he can unring the bell. Tenants talk, and certainly new tenants will find out anyways, so your better off finding someone who cares less and moves in despite the situation, then having them move in and throw a fit when they ultimately find out.
I think the unit you'll have the most issue with is the one it happened it. Tough call.... eventually time will be your friend on this one and the whole thing will go away.
What a terrible ordeal! Tragic. I'm kind of surprised tenants were asking to be let out of lease due to a neighbor suicide. I mean, I guess if it had been a different set of circumstances, like a violent crime had occurred that's one thing. But seems strange to me that a nearby suicide would have people so freaked out they'd need to move.
Thanks for sharing your story and I hope everything works out.
Thanks for sharing the details
@Sharon Tzib I appreciate your condolences. You're correct regarding disclosing the event if the property is being sold. With rentals the landlord has more discretion with disclosure.
@Rob K Thanks for your message. I think i have have mislead about the tenants that I released from the lease. I didn't release tenants from other units - they were just informed. The tenants that were released were the other roommates within the unit where the incident occurred. I hear your passion and completely agree, I was very upset with the guy for committing such a selfish act. I will certainly take your advice and utilize the cops next time I have to enter a potential crime scene. It looks like you're doing very well with real estate keep up the good work! thanks again for the support.
@Kris Taylor The tenants I let go were the roommates within the same unit. Thanks for the support its greatly appreciated.
@Vijay Joshi you're welcome.
@Carlos M. I am so sorry to hear that this happened. And, thank you for sharing your story. I never would have known what to do in that situation.
Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate
Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing