The recent death of Michael Jackson in a rented LA home is a reminder that property managers need to KNOW what their role is in the process when a resident dies.
Within hours of the media learning of Michael's collapse after a rehearsal for his upcoming tour, it was reported that he was living in a posh LA home renting for $100,000 per month. The home was being rented by the backers of his upcoming tour and he was living in the home with his children and members of his staff and entourage.
Neighbors probably shared the rental amount with media as this type of information is easily available through back-fence gossip and public records. The ins/outs of the various vehicles with staff, security and visitors would announce the occupants although TMZ had reported the address several times before the incident and a tour bus was actually passing the residence when the EMTs were removing MJ from the house.
The property owner or property manager would have known that Katherine Jackson and daughter, Janet, would be allowed to remove personal items of the children as well as any valuable items and vacate the property as quickly as possible.
A property manager in NoVa had a resident commit suicide at the rented property and when the emergency medical techs arrived, the resident's lease, property manager's card and a note with the next of kin noted on it were laid out on the kitchen counter....again, rarely is the process this clear.
Many times, the process is not so clear......The property manager or landlord should first secure the property if a sole resident is involved and then refer to the rental application for the contact information of the "nearest relative". Entry by authorities is common so taking photos of the resident's belongings in the property is a good safe-guard to inventory the contents.
If the resident has a will, that makes the process easier; however, if no will is in effect, then the city or county may appoint a conservator to direct the property manager how to dispose of the resident's belongings.
At no time should the property manager remove or disturb the deceased resident'sproperty and the re-renting of the propert should not attempted until the personal property and furnishings are properly removed.
While no one wants to anticipate this type of procedure as necessary, by being prepared for the eventuality, property managers and landlords can lessen the burden on the friends and families and act in the best interest of their property owner clients.