Death of a Tenant
What if the tenant dies?
If requested by the landlord, a tenant must provide the landlord with the name, address, and telephone number of a person to contact in the event of the tenant’s death. The tenant must also sign a statement authorizing the landlord to, in the event of the tenant’s death: (1) grant the tenant’s designee access to the premises at a reasonable time and in the presence of the landlord or the landlord’s agent; (2) allow the tenant’s designee to remove any of the tenant’s property found at the leased premises; and (3) refund the tenant’s security deposit, less lawful deductions, to the tenant’s designee. A tenant may also provide the designation and statement without any request from the landlord. If a tenant has been furnished with a copy of the provisions detailing the tenant’s obligations, and nevertheless fails to make the required designation after a request from the landlord, the landlord shall have no responsibility after the tenant’s death for removal, storage, disappearance, damage, or disposition of property in the tenant’s leased premises.
Unless the lease or other written agreement provides otherwise, in the event of the death of a tenant who is the sole occupant of a rental dwelling, the landlord:
- May remove and store all property found in the tenant’s leased premises.
- Must turn over possession of the property to the person designated by the tenant, or to any other person lawfully entitled to the property, if the request is made prior to the property being discarded.
- Must refund the tenant’s security deposit, less lawful deductions, including the cost of removing and storing the property, to the person designated by the tenant or to any other person lawfully entitled to the refund.
- May require any person who removes the property from the tenant’s leased premises to sign an inventory of the property being removed.
- May discard the property removed by the landlord from the tenant’s leased premises if the landlord has sent a request by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the tenant’s designee requesting that the property be removed, the designee has failed to remove the property by the 30th day after the postmark date of the notice, and the landlord, prior to the date of discarding the property, has not been contacted by anyone claiming the property.
If the landlord, after being furnished with a copy of these statutory obligations, knowingly violates the obligations, the landlord is liable to the estate of the deceased tenant for actual damages.
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