Landlord – Death Edition

June 13th, 2010 · 4 Comments · Property Management, Rental Property

Kicked The Bucket

If you are a landlord or a tenant or a property manager you will have to deal with the amazingly fun topic of death. During my career I have had to deal with this issue a number of times. It doesn’t happen that often but when it does it’s a problem. The hardest part of our job is dealing with people and periodically people die. That’s just a fact.

What brings this topic to my mind is my rental activities. I am currently trying to rent a two bedroom apartment for a very nice senior. I went to show his apartment and as I’m showing and renting it a neighbor shows up and asks me how he is. I tell her I don’t know and she tells me that he got taken away by ambulance a few days ago. I don’t have a clue how he’s doing and when you call the hospital they won’t tell you if he’s there. He’s 88 and I have no clue if he’s dead or alive. He’s a nice guy so I’d like to know. The gentleman I showed the apartment to wants it too, so I have good news for him if he’s ok.

Landlord Death

I have had one landlord die. He was a young guy and went on vacation and was shot. In this case the property will be sold by the heirs. If things go really wrong and no one bothers to pay the mortgage the property may go into receivership. I was looking at a property like this for investors earlier this year. If the property is a larger commercial one the tenants don’t have to worry about the death because they won’t be asked to move or anything. If it’s a house the tenant may have to move. Not right away but after the heirs decide what to do with the house. If there are no heirs then the house will be sold. A property being sold is not the end of the world you may find that the new owners want a good tenant.

Tenant Death

I have had a few tenants die and it is always unpleasant. I have never found anybody dead thankfully. The law says that if a tenant dies the lease is automatically dissolved and the landlord can get legal possession in 30 days. Sometimes you don’t know the tenant is dead and you evict them when their rent doesn’t come in. This happened to me once. I went through the entire process only to have a resident come and tell us a few months later that the tenant we had evicted had passed away. One time a mom called me to tell me her son had passed away. It’s always heart wrenching.

In another case one of my tenants had a nine year old daughter pass away. She had been too busy making arrangements to pay her rent. Her daughter was a delightful young lady. The worst possible circumstances. Of course I was suspicious so I had to google around until I found the news article about the circumstances.

That was one of the moments where it really hit home, the price we all pay for dealing with tenants. I no longer react in a normal way. I don’t believe anything without verifying the information. Even if I hear reports from another person I don’t necessarily believe it either. It’s really sad.

So there you have it…. what I know about death.

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