Help! Crime Scene Cleaning Co. Aftermath Inc. is asking for $48k

44 Replies

Hi BiggerPockets!,

I'm hoping someone can give me some solid advice here. The police called me this morning to let me know that a tenant (not on a lease) but living with someone who is on the lease, took his own life this morning with a gun. 

The police told me I should find someone to clean the property as soon as they were done. I did a quick Google search and Aftermath was the first company I called. 

They came by right away and took photos and got back to me with an estimate!  $48,000! 

Their explanation here is that the insurance is going to negotiate this number down so I don't have to worry about it. They even sent me a letter along with the estimate saying they'd give me an additional $2,500 off. The sales person was just so pushy to get me to sign that I knew something wasn't right. 

I then called another company Bio Recovery who's parent company is Prestige WorldWide Industries (http://www.prestigeworldwide.company) which if you've never seen the movie Step Brothers is the name of their "Fake Company" which makes me now question doing business with these guys. They spent a lot of time trashing talking Aftermath and said the bill should never be $48k and that AfterMath has been known to hold business owners personally liable when the Insurance Company refuses to pay. They then put a Mechanical Lien on your property if you don't pay up and try to push you into foreclosure to try to get the property from you. 

I then found a news report on Aftermath which makes them look pretty shady

http://www.abc2news.com/news/local-news/investigat...


Ironically though I was looking through the fine print of the Prestige Worldwide's contract and they specifically highlight mechanical liens in their contract so I feel like they're just as shady. They also ask for family members and friends or descendants with their known addresses and their assets. (Cash, Securities, Artworks, Furs, Sports Equipment, Vehicles, etc.) Like what? You want me to list out the assets you're going to try to come after me for. 

This whole industry just seems so shady. They pray on people are going through something insanely hard. I can't imagine if I was doing this for a family member how much more frustrated I would be. 

Does anyone know of ethical companies that clean up after crime scenes? The property is in Southern Maine 30 minutes from Portland.

I also called ServPro and they immediately sent someone out but he said he couldn't get me an estimate until Monday. 

I have StateFarm Insurance on the property and a really high deductible. ($5k). Which I'm not so worried about compared to getting sued and having a company come after me for $48k because I hastily signed some contract. 

Has anyone been in this situation? Have any advice? These companies all seem so shady to me. 


Thanks in advance!
Tom

48k!? wow...For that price I'd consider doing it myself unless there's some law requiring professional cleaning.

Hi Tom,

I've never had the experience of having to deal with a crime scene clean up. But for future references, my suggestion would be to contact some reputable property management companies in your local area, and see what they'll tell you about the crime clean up company(s) they've used. 

It might not be a bad idea also to YouTube the subject and to educate yourself.

Hopefully, you never have to call for another crime scene clean up, but in the event that you do have to call for one, I hope this helps.

All the best,

George

What about asking your insurance agent if they have recommended companies ? Maybe something like a preferred vendor ?

Like @Karen Margrave I was going to suggest Servpro.  If they don't do this type of work, they may have a referral to offer.  And at $48K, you should be able to get a bio hazard team from Boston or NY and still have $ left over.  Good luck.

@Tom Anderson There's no way this should cost anything close to what you have been quoted. I don't have any referrals for Portland but I've had similar jobs done in my area and none cost more than a couple thousand. Morbid, but much of the total expense can depend on how far the fluids seeped into surrounding areas. You may be ripping up carpets and drywall if it's real bad but still shouldn't be anywhere even close to $48k. Heck, I'll do it for $38k and give you a $3k discount.....

We had one here (homicide) several tears ago (we knew the family) & the cleanup was about $4,000 & I was amazed the place sold that year for the asking price.

Have you been to the property yourself yet to do your inspection.

I can not see ever hiring someone to do work without my personal inspection first.

Suicide by gun shot, assuming the body is found quickly, is not a big job to clean up. Mostly blood, maybe some grey matter. Remove carpet, bleach sub floor, wipe down wall. It could be that simple. It really only gets complicated when the body is not discovered for a extended time.

It would be interesting to know what kind of a mess costs 48K to clean up.

Service Master is an option.  

I use to work as a project manager for one and I did two suicide clean ups when we where short staffed.  Terrible job and the health risk are bigger so price will be higher than dealing with a mold/sewer back up.  I think we charged double for tear out compare to tearing out the same amount of affected stuff compare to the mold/sewer.  Assuming it was in a bedroom it should not cost more than 5-10k for the clean up.  Then normal cost for replacing the torn out materials.  

I second @Nathan Golding - Service Master is a great company to work with.  Our firm has retained them for some non-bio hazard cleanup... but I do know that's a service they offer.  If you're looking for a local contact to them, shoot me a message and I'll pass the name along for someone who services that area.  

Thanks, everyone! I'm going to continue to call companies looking for quotes and continue to do more research on everything. I'll let everyone know how things end up. Thanks!

I have had  this a few times.. I went to home depot got day laborers ... bleach and other cleaning supplies all done for a few hundred.

to clarify not me personally my on staff GC did it... ... but if I did not have employees to delegate this too I would do as I described ..

I've used Servpro for plumbing accidents and was happy with the service; I'm not sure if they deal with crime scenes. I would think a local, professional cleaning company could do it for a lot less. Keep calling around! Good luck!

"I have had this a few times.. I went to home depot got day laborers"

I really do not understand what the big deal is. I understand a body left to rot for a couple of weeks may be a chore to clean up but this one was found and removed the same day. There is zero health risk. A little blood, likely no bigger than cleaning up a paint can spill. 

I have done jobs much worse and more dangerous to save less than $1000.

If I was in your area Tom I would gladly do the clean up for you for a grand.

Definitely check with your insurance first to see if they have a recommendation. 

Like @Thomas S.  a friend of mine had a suicide in one of his units, shotgun to head, his father cleaned it up. He had a suit, gloves, bleach, cleaner. He had to remove part of the ceiling and part of a ceiling joist because of some bio matter (teeth mostly) (just shuddered a bit). Replaced carpet, sheetrock and painted. 

This was done the day after the shooting, his father said it was pretty easy and he had worse cleaning after peoples parties. I think it is the eww factor that you have to get over.

I've negotiated with Aftermath before.  I've negotiated with Prestige Worldwide too.  PW is a legit company.  Even though Prestige Worldwide is legit, I would still hire the fictional Brennan and Dale's Prestige Worldwide before I'd hire Aftermath.

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

"There is zero health risk. A

 Ummm, no there's a lot of risk with body fluids of a person who decided for whatever reason (psychological, medical or viral) that their life was going to get worse.

This is a scenario I have never even thought about. Is there no way this clean up is the responsibility of the insurance carried by the person, or the immediate family, or even the person who is the primary lease holder (if not the person committing the suicide).

It is insane to me that this is your financial responsibility. I understand you are left with the mess and it cant sit - but there must be something you can do I.E put a lein on his remaining belonging (if there are any) bank accounts, cars, ect.

My buddy had this happen in one of his rentals, a murder/suicide. His insurance company paid for 100% of it AND paid for lost rent till it was rented again, although I'm not sure what his deductible was. I'd call your insurance agent and talk with them about it first before signing anything.

Hi Tom. I’ll give you my two cents. Without getting into details on how the suicide occurred, I do think proper clean up is a must!

I’ve been inside many crime scenes (more than I wish to talk about), and there are many health risks you need to consider. Like I said depending on how this person took his own life will probably depend on the steps you need to take.

Every state and county are probably a little bit different, but I know we have a county office called “Victim Witness”. I’ve seen the county cover the cost of clean up (sometimes partial, sometimes full). If you have any questions of me, please don’t hesitate to ask.

I like ServPro, although I think that they tend to overcharge on the cost of materials so I’d encourage going with a GC if you’re looking at having to tear anything out and replace it but here is my valuable two cents:

Don’t just clean it up with bleach and call it a done deal. I really hate when people do that, this is considered a hazmat scenario and there are proper chemicals that are used for a reason with these types of situations. The company that I work for requires extensive reporting when this happens and using a hazmat certified cleaner is what they make the biggest deal of making sure I do every time. I wouldn’t advise it if I didn’t believe that there is a reason for it.

I had a suicide in my unit in southern NH - same scenario:  gunshot to the head.  The body sat for a couple days in 95 degree heat with all the windows closed until the son found him.  From a cleanup perspective, the biggest issue was fluids in the wood floors and joists.  

I used Crime and Death Scene Cleaning in Ipswich, MA.  (You can google them)  They go all over, were sensitive to the family, and very professional.  My insurance company paid for everything.  And since my tenant had renters insurance, my insurance company went to the tenant's company and retrieved my deductible.   You just give them your insurance information and they take care of the rest.  I seem to remember the cost was around $7500, but it was a long time ago.  

They don't put back new flooring, so I got an estimate from my contractor, and the insurance paid for that too.  I took advantage of the opportunity to remodel the unit, although I didn't try to charge the insurance company for that.  I informed them what I was doing, and what part of the estimate was bio-cleanup and what was not.  They were fine with it.

The building was in a small town, so for years when I advertised an apartment, I would have people ask if this was the building where the guy killed himself.  I would tell the truth, but never had trouble renting the unit or others in the building.

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