Although you didn’t likely anticipate being in such a role when you initially decided to become a landlord, you’re likely to learn a lot more about your tenants and the different struggles they face in your role than you ever expected.
One question that you might find yourself needing to know is what happens after a tenant dies.
Don’t rush to move your tenant’s things out when they pass away
You may assume that your tenant’s death automatically terminates their rental agreement with you. That’s not necessarily the case, though.
You won’t want to review your contract’s terms and local and state laws regarding the matter to see if it specifies what should happen in this instance. In most cases, a lease doesn’t end when a tenant dies. Their next of kin may be entitled to assume the lease. Even if they don’t want to or can’t, it doesn’t absolve the estate from paying any remaining rents due to you.
An alternative to this is for a landlord to agree with a tenant to amicably terminate their lease upon their tenant’s death without requiring any further rent payments. There are various steps you must take to get to this point.
Why you must secure a written notification of a tenant’s death
Securing written confirmation of your tenant’s death is important. It will make it easier to pursue your claim for unpaid rent and other losses through the estate.
Such notice may also be critical to establishing communication between you and the estate executor or your tenant’s next of kin. You’ll need to communicate with them before proceeding in re-renting the unit or doing anything with your tenant’s belongings.
You’ll ultimately need to get your tenant’s next of kin to sign a release to the rights of possession before you re-rent the unit. You may be able to use any security deposit to apply toward any cleaning costs, repairs or back rent. You’ll need to return any excess funds to the estate.
Help in navigating your obligations after a tenant’s death
There are many curveballs that you may have thrown at you as a landlord. Navigating what you’re supposed to do with your tenant’s belongings, security deposit, and re-rental issues are some of them. An attorney can advise you of the steps that you should take in such instances.