One of the HARDEST aspects of Property Management * Dealing with a Tenant's Death

Reblogger M. Suzi Woods (Gravenstuk)
Services for Real Estate Pros with NOW Sharing the life and spice of the GC one day at a time


Following is a calm, cool and responsible method for dealing with a tenant's death. If you have rental property and are not prepared with a "death of tenant" protocol, you may want to start with this reading.

Many thanks to the original Poster, Wallace S. Gibson CPM * GRI, Charlottesville, VA

Please comment on the original post as well as mine.


Original content by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM

One of the HARDEST aspects of property management is dealing with the death of a tenant. In 45 years, it has only happened to me twice * once a lower apartment reported water coming through their bathroom ceiling and when maintenance knocked on the door and entered the upper apartment, they found the apartment tenant dead in an overflowing tub.  The second time was a suicide and the tenant had left a copy of the lease and my card on the kitchen counter after he shot himself.

In both instances, the first action I did was to secure the property and then, I reviewed the tenant's application paperwork and notified the CLOSEST RELATIVE listed.  In the second instance, local police were called by the EMTs and they actually photographed the area.  I would NOW photograph the entire apartment whether the tenant died in the rental property or in a hospital.  I would not take a chance that something  went missing or disappeared that needed to be accounted for.


Since I did not know who actually had access to the apartment with duplicate keys, I arrange for the locks to be changed to secure the premises and wait for the nearest relative or the conservator of the tenant to contact me with evidence of their authority to remove the tenant's belongings.  I would post a notice on the unit entry to contact me for entry with their authorization documentation.

A Conservator would be appointed by the city/county if there was evidence of no will or directions for the disposal of their personal property and the nearest relative would have knowledge of the tenant's will or potential for an Executor for the tenant's estate.

Once one of these authorized persons contacted me, I would release the new keys and get a signed receipt which would indicate that the rent must be kept current if the resident is on a lease OR that the authorized person was taking the key and providing me with a 30-day written notice with a definite termination date for the return of the apartment to my possession.  Any items left in the unit would be disposed of and the cost charged to the tenant's deposit.

The tenant's security deposit should be accounted for within the mandated time limit and if monies are due, the tenant's estate should billed so that any funds remaining can be paid on their behalf.

Not a a pleasant duty, but a duty nonetheless to the tenant's estate and our property owners who want the property returned ASAP and re-rented.

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M. Suzi Woods (Gravenstuk)

Suzi Woods, Prior Independent REBroker in MS
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