September 25, 2023

Deceased Tenant Policy: What to Do When a Tenant Dies in Your Rental Property

While it might sound morbid to think about, a landlord must be prepared if a tenant dies in his rental property. If you are a landlord, this can be a complicated situation because you need to reclaim the rental unit and reduce the loss of income. 

Moreover, you must help the family reclaim the possessions left by the deceased tenant and meet their obligations to you. You will have to deal with the deceased tenant's estate, and it is even more of a burden on you if there is a dispute in the estate or if the person was living alone until his death. 

This blog post will help you know the deceased tenant policy and the proper process of what you should do as a landlord if a tenant dies in the rental unit. 

The Lease Contract

For instance, the tenant is the only occupant in the rental unit, and then the person dies. As a landlord, you should know that the lease contract continues to be effective. The obligation to meet the conditions of the agreement passes to the deceased’s estate, which is typically handled by an executor. 

You must close the lease with the tenant's estate according to what is stipulated in the agreement. They will still have to pay you rent, and you are responsible for the upkeep of the property and protect the deceased tenant’s personal belongings. You cannot remove the possessions of your late tenant from the rental unit without cooperating with the estate. 

Step-by-Step Guide on What You Should Do

Here is a step-by-step guide upon finding that one of your tenants has died on the rental property. 

Contact the Authorities

Call 911 or any appropriate authority right after discovering your tenant has died on the rental property. Do not be in haste, and be sure to wait for the proper authorities to handle the case. 

The authorities should also be the ones to contact the family members or relatives of the deceased. It might involve sensitive information, and it is better if the right people will talk about it with the next of kin. 

Wait for Official Notice

Wait for the written notice of the death of the authorities or relatives of the deceased, regardless if you already know about it. This written document is crucial if you need to reclaim your rental unit and help the loved ones of the deceased tenant retrieve his personal belongings. 

Secure the Rental Unit

You are responsible for securing the rental property once you have received information about a tenant’s death. Lock the doors, windows, and any point of entry to the rental unit to prevent potential theft. You can also change locks to ensure the unit is secured against anyone who might have another key, regardless if the person is related to the deceased. 

The personal belongings of the deceased tenant have to be administered correctly in accordance with his estate. That is the reason it is crucial to prevent anyone from entering the rental unit to take his possessions without the executor of the estate. 

Communicate with the Executor

Talk directly with the executor of the deceased tenant, particularly about the transition of the rental unit back to you. Remember that there is no automatic termination of the lease contract upon a tenant’s death. So, you have to go through the legal steps before reclaiming the rental unit or removing the tenant’s personal belongings from the property. 

For sure, you are looking for a smooth process of repossessing the rental property. If yes, the executor can be a great help in this matter. If there is not yet an executor, communicate with a probate court or assigned person to deal with the lease. You can also contact local housing authorities regarding the process of dealing with the estate of a deceased tenant. 

Patience is the  Key

Be sure to have enough patience when dealing with the death of a tenant. While your focus might be on how to regain control of the rental unit, the family members or the estate executor of the deceased tenant are grieving the loss of a loved one at the moment. You must understand their situation and be considerate. 

Your aim to repossess the rental property may not be done in a day or a week. The lease contract will be in force until you and the executor reach a closure. So, patience is the key. 

Final Thoughts

Landlords must know the process of dealing with a tenant’s death in a rental property. A landlord must follow the proper procedure to ensure that he can regain control of the rental unit in a legal way. Communicating with the family member and estate executor of the deceased tenant is vital to guarantee a smooth transition process.