Never really thought we'd need to create a checklist for this, but just got an email this morning from a client who had to deal with this. So, here's our best suggestions should you find yourself in this situation.
- Check for vital signs if you are able to do so without disturbing the scene or body
- Sometimes an injured or unconscious person may appear dead
- Call 911
- Follow the instructions provided by 911 dispatch
- Document the state of the property with photos or video
- Lock all doors and windows
- Change locks if legally permitted
- Do not let the deceased's family or friends enter without accompanying them and don't let them take anything
With a month-to-month lease official notice of death generally ends the lease.
If the lease does not have any stipulations regarding tenant death then State Law prevails.
The tenant's estate continues to owe rent on the unit until officially released and has the right to occupy the premises.
In most cases, the executor will want to stop paying rent as soon as possible. You may want to consider an arrangement where the estate pays rent until a new tenant can be moved in.
Generally the next of kin will handle this but if you have trouble finding the next of kin and there is no language in your lease specifying you are not liable you may be required to store the tenant's personal property for a specific period of time as dictated by state law.
Inquire as to who is the executor of the estate and get their contact information.
Discuss the terms of the lease and coordinate with them regarding disposition of the personal effects, lease termination, and security deposit.
Contact the executor of the estate to get this documentation.
If you find yourself in this situation you will need to obtain the notice of death yourself and then get a court order to take next steps.
You will need to provide a detailed list of all expenditures and submit a claim to the estate through probate court.
If the tenant died inside the unit you should hire a professional company to clean and complete the remediation.
Come states require that any death inside a rental unit must be disclosed for a given period of time while others exclude it under psychologically stigmatizing exemptions. It is recommended to check with an attorney in your state to decide on the best course of action.
Additional Challenging Tenant Scenarios
Have another tenant challenge? Check out these other checklists.
- Tenant Scenario: Black Mold
- Tenant Scenario: City Ordinance Violation
- Tenant Scenario: Not Maintaining the Property
- Tenant Scenario: One Roommate Didn’t Pay Rent
- Tenant Scenario: Rent Check Bounced
- Tenant Scenario: Rent Not Paid by Due Date
- Tenant Scenario: Rent Still Not Paid by the 5th
- Tenant Scenario: Tenant Hold Over
More posts: Tenant Scenario