When you first start renting out a house or apartment, you think the worst that can happen is that you get a rowdy tenant that breaks windows or punches drywall. Unfortunately, it can get much worse than that.
Sometimes people pass away. The distress of such a situation can be immense for everyone involved. As a landlord, there are some things you should remember in case you find yourself in this situation.
Follow the Law
The first thing you do should be to call 9-1-1 and follow their instructions. If there are pets present and they are aggressive, you may want to call animal control so first responders aren’t attacked. If you wish to remove them yourself to administer care or provide medical attention, bring someone with you to record your rescue on their smartphone so you can prove that you did not tamper with the potential crime scene. Cooperate fully with law enforcement when they arrive, providing as many details as possible.
Regardless of if you find the body yourself or hear about it secondhand from the deceased’s friends and family, you need to obtain a notice of death for your own records. Be aware that the lease may not be voided by the tenant’s death and may be passed to the next of kin, along with all their pets and possessions on the property. You cannot rent out the property again until an agreement is reached.
During this time the property might be attractive to thieves looking for an easy score. After the body is removed and police and first responders have released the scene, you will want to lock all doors and windows to prevent break-ins.
If the body had been sitting for some time or the death was the result of violence or significant self-injury, you may want to type into a search engine death cleanup services near me and find a company to handle the cleanup. With improper cleaning, scent can linger, making the property unpleasant to anyone stepping foot inside.
Work With the Family
Both parties may come to an amicable decision to terminate the lease, but that doesn’t mean you should expect the apartment to be cleaned out by the end of the day. Set a generous deadline, giving the family time to grieve and get their concerns in order. If there is no next of kin, you will have to consult with your local law enforcement to see how the deceased’s possessions should be managed.
If you use the security deposit to pay back rent, hire cleaning services or fix damage to the property, you may want to give the next of kin a receipt with expenses to prove that it was put to good use instead of arbitrarily kept.
This is a time when emotions run high. You may be inconvenienced by the situation, but these people lost a loved one they will never get back. It’s best to err on the side of grace and give them the compassion and empathy you would want if the tables were turned.