When a tenant dies, a landlord is faced with several challenges, including collecting rent, storing the tenant's possessions, and re-leasing the apartment. Each state has its own laws regarding a landlord's rights in the event of tenant death.
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Each State is Different
Each state has a set of laws to address landlord- tenant issues, so you must be familiar with the laws in the state where the tenant actually resided.
The death of a tenant does not automatically break the lease. In most states, the landlord has a right to continue receiving rent according to the terms of the lease and can require that the estate of the deceased pay any rent due.
If a tenant was a month-to-month renter, the landlord must obey all state laws regarding the termination of the tenant's tenancy (in some states this means treating the property as if it had been abandoned).
If the tenant had a lease, that lease is now held by his estate, and the landlord cannot rent the space to someone else without first terminating that lease.
Disposing of the Tenant's Belongings
The tenant's belongings are property of her estate. A landlord is required to safely store the property until it is claimed. A landlord may have the right to sell the property and reimburse himself for the expense of storage and any other costs if the property remains unclaimed.
A landlord must insure that the lease has been properly terminated before renting out a home or removing the deceased's property. Failure to do so could result in a lawsuit or possibly a criminal charge.
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