First month as a landlord, and a tenant passed away

7 Replies

So we have collected rent one time now, and one of our two existing tenants passed away last night. She passed away at the hospital, and it was nothing of our fault. I feel terrible for her and her children/grandchildren. This was not expected. That being said, is there anything i should be doing on my end? I am just not sure what to do right now. Still in shock. I found out last night, literally as i was getting a root canal at the dentist office. I just saw her a couple days ago. Life is so precious.

Really sorry to hear that man. I would honestly work with her family on getting her things out. Use the security deposit to fix any damage (if there is any) and give the check to her kids. 

@DJ Cummins was she living alone or are their other tenants in the unit?  If there are other tenants, you have to decide whether they can assume her lease and if not, how much time to give them to move out.  If there are not other tenants in the unit, initiate contact immediately with whoever is executing her will.  Hopefully, they will move quickly to get her stuff out of the unit.

Any security deposit refund should be paid by check payable to her estate, not payable to any individual.  You haven't seen her will (if there is one) and you have no idea who should receive the proceeds from her estate.  The best way to protect yourself is to make the check payable to "The Estate of TENANT's NAME".

Good luck.

Originally posted by @Ryan Dossey :

Really sorry to hear that man. I would honestly work with her family on getting her things out. Use the security deposit to fix any damage (if there is any) and give the check to her kids. 

The possessions and security deposit refund are part of the estate.  Find out who is the executor of the estate and work with them.

Leases generally terminate with death of the tenant, so on your side you want to get it ready to show and to rent it out.

If there are other tenants (she wasn't the only one on the lease), like a husband or adult child, then there likely isn't much you need to do, because they still have rights to the unit.

If she was the only tenant, you'll want to look into the legal requirements regarding how to handle her possessions and security deposit. DO NOT let anyone just go in the unit and take stuff, as you don't know what's in her will or who has rights to her possessions (you don't want to get sued because some diamond rings are missing...).  You need to find out what your state and local laws are regarding the tenant's estate, executors, etc.  It wouldn't be a bad idea to contact a lawyer to get some advice on how to proceed.

From what I've heard, month-to-month agreements generally terminate with the death of the tenant (unless there are other tenants still there), but a lease continues and the estate is responsible for the remainder of the rent due for the lease period (unless you re-rent it).  This may vary by state, though, so look into that.

Not a lawyer, not legal advice.  I recommend contacting a lawyer who specializes in landlord-tenant law to get input.

NA CumminsI reached out to a local landlord down in Granite City who had something similar happen to him just a couple of months back. I'm awaiting a reply to make sure he's willing to speak with you. If he's good with it, I'll forward you his contact info.

I hope everything works out for you. You've already gotten some solid advice here. Also, you might consider speaking with your attorney just to see what he/she thinks.

I had something very similar happen. About 2 months after purchasing one of my apartment buildings, one of my tenants, who was a long term tenant and had lived in her apartment for 10 years before I purchased it, became terminally ill and was admitted to hospice care.  She passed away about 2 weeks after and I did not even find out she went into hospice care until a day before she passed.  It was a tough situation and I definitely recommend, as others have said, getting legal advice for this sensitive situation.

One thing I would highly recommend based on my experience from this happening is to try and check on your rental unit as soon as you can. In the time between my tenant being admitted to hospice and me finding out everything and waiting on her sister to move her possessions, I found out they did not relocate her 2 cats when she went into hospice. You can imagine what the place smelled like after 2 weeks of unattended cats. Check on your rental unit to make sure there's not anything that could cause damage from it being left unattended for a week or so while the family arranges to get everything out.

@Dj cummins, sorry to hear what happen, but actually I am dealing similar situation with you, my tenant past away last Friday, I've been helping his family take to all stuff left behind and just do what I can do to make the moving process easier.  Good luck!

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