Tenant dies
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Tenant dies (by Jo Ann Haga [AL]) Mar 11, 2008 5:06 PM
       Tenant dies (by Irish [MD]) Mar 11, 2008 5:21 PM
       Tenant dies (by Opinionated [NC]) Mar 11, 2008 5:28 PM
       Tenant dies (by Hamlet [GA]) Mar 11, 2008 6:34 PM
       Tenant dies (by Echo [GA]) Mar 12, 2008 6:57 AM
       Tenant dies (by Roger in GA [GA]) Mar 22, 2013 12:02 PM

Tenant dies (by Jo Ann Haga [AL]) Posted on: Mar 11, 2008 5:06 PM

State Specific Question About: ALABAMA (AL)

Tenant dies and there are damages and personal property left behind. What are we to do with personal belongings if we don't know what relative is intitled to them and we have no lease or deposite from deceased tenant. Can we hold property for damages? Do we have a right to demand proof of survivership? Can we legally lock up personal property until we have satisfaction of ownership and/or $ damages?

Thank you, Jo Ann Haga --12.27.xxx.xxx

Tenant dies (by Irish [MD]) Posted on: Mar 11, 2008 5:21 PM

This is a very "legal" issue...be very careful...my response is of a genaric nature, and could be very different from state to state...

You need to immediatly go change the locks... you could have unautrhorized relatives/friends with the old keys who want to come in and cherry pick the valuables...read steal...

You should only release any of the personal property to the estate executor...I'm not sure how you find out who this is...perhaps make a call to the local "wills" department or call your district court clerk to find out... --71.168.xx.xxx

Tenant dies (by Opinionated [NC]) Posted on: Mar 11, 2008 5:28 PM

Your claims for unpaid rent, etc. can be made with the administrator/executor after one is appointed by the court. Your claim takes precedent over that of heirs. But there may be no assets in the estate --66.44.xxx.xxx

Tenant dies (by Hamlet [GA]) Posted on: Mar 11, 2008 6:34 PM

This has happened to me a couple of times, and this is what I know (this is my experience, it is certainly not legal advice): (1) you cannot make any direct claim to the personal property, you must make a claim to the estate against all the assets of the estate for any money owed to you - you don't have the right to single out the personal property that was in the dwellin, (2) you do have the right to remove the personal property and store it so that you can re-rent your property. But I would read the lease first and see if there is a survivorship clause - if so, then the heirs are now renting the place from you, so you have the option of continuing the lease with them or trying to re-rent. I prefer the latter. (3) You are responsible for the personal property until it is turned over to an AUTHORIZED representative of the estate - that would be a person who comes to you with something IN WRITING from the local Probate Court stating that they are authorized to handle the estate of the deceased. At that point you can deliver the personal property to that person, whether it is still in the dwelling or whether you have placed it in storage. Until you see some OFFICIAL authorization, you do NOT turn the personal property over to anyone. This is why storing it is a good idea, because you have no idea how long it will be (if ever) until that authorized representative shows up. If they do show up and are properly authorized, get a detailed and signed receipt from them for what they are taking. And by the way, they are taking EVERYTHING, not just what they want to pick and choose from - make that clear from the start (4) Your responsbility for the personal property includes taking reasonable care for its security while it is in your possession. I recommend making a list of everything that you take out of the dwelling (use some common sense here, of course) and take photos of the items. Having another person assist you also provides a witness to the specific items and their condition. This hasn't happened to me, but I can see Daughter Donna showing up demanding to know where he mother's (the mother she hasn't spoken to in 5 years) fantastic jewelry collection is. Doing an inventory doesn't mean that you didn't stick something in your pocket, but it makes the case to the police (if they get summoned) or to a judge that you are a reasonable and apparently honest person (it also helps if you don't have any priors for theft or larceny...) (5) If no one shows up within 30 days or so to claim the goods, send certified letters to any next of kin or family that might be on the deceased's application you have on file and let them know of the situation and inform them that unless an authorized representative of the estate shows up within 30 more days, you will be disposing of the personal property without liability on your part. I believe that a court would back you up if you got hauled in front of one later (GA law supports this), because you held on to the property for a reasonable amount of time and you had no agreement to do otherwise. (6) If family members show up wanting to get in, don't let them in (yes - changing the locks IMMEDIATELY is what you want to do) without autorization from the Probate Court. If you let Sister Sue in to get "a few things", chances are Brother Bobby will show up later wanting to know where those things are and he will hold you repsonsible for letting Sister Sue get them - and you will be responsible. They may get nasty with you and threaten to call the cops - my response was that if they didn't call the cops, I was going to, and with that, they left.

After I went through this a few times, I did 2 things - I took the survivorship clause out of my lease, and I added a clause that states what I related somewhere above - if the tenant dies and no authorized person shows up within 30 days after I have notified next of kin listed on the app, I can dispose of the property with no liability. I also give tenants the option of giving me something in writing that names the people who can have access the dwelling in case the tenant is sick or has (and we have to put this delicately of course) passed on. I want that notarized.

The other interesting thing about this situation is that when this has happened to me, no one has ever asked about the sec deposit, which I would think would have to be paid into to the estate for probate. I just applied it to the rent, repairs, etc (in other words, I kept it). Never came up.

We all know that family members do funny things when someone dies - never more apparent than when it is one of your tenants. It's good to be prepared. --68.154.xxx.xxx

Tenant dies (by Echo [GA]) Posted on: Mar 12, 2008 6:57 AM

Wow, thanks Hamlet. I have copied you post for any future reference. I am also changing my lease to add your clause. Very Very good advice. --74.243.xx.xxx

Tenant dies (by Roger in GA [GA]) Posted on: Mar 22, 2013 12:02 PM

Hamlet, great advice. Our tenant died and the sister was named executor of the will, but then waived her rights to do the job and filed the will with probate court. we have been storing the tenants property for 6 months and still have no idea what to do with it all. we need to sell the house, so anything that was left in it is now in storage, but for how long are we obligated to take care of his things? Will probate court assign an executor if no one files to do the job? we have contacted several lawyers and each one has given us vastly different advice. we want to make sure to protect ourselves from future liability if we dispose of his things. So, how do we accomplish that goal? Thank you for any advice. we are truly ata loss. --98.251.xx.xxx

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