As the owner of a rental property, there are several renter issues you have to deal with, such as late rent payments, noise complaints, and other lease violations. However, an unattended death on your property is one situation that’s especially hard to deal with. Having a renter pass away on your premises can be an overwhelming experience. After the effects of the shock have waned, you need to know what legal and cleanup steps you need to take. Should you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, here’s what you can do.
Get a written notice of your tenant’s death.
The first thing you should do once you discover the deceased individual on your property is to contact the police. The police will then contact the renter’s next of kin. If there’s no next of kin on record, law enforcement will offer guidance on how to obtain a death notice. After there’s a written record of your tenant’s death, you can then go about readying the property for the next occupant.
Secure the deceased’s property.
After you receive the tenant’s death notice, you’ll now need to secure the rental property. To do this, you can get into the unit and ensure that the windows and doors are well-secured. Check on the AC unit to ensure that the space has enough ventilation. To be on the safe side, try not to touch any of their belongings, lest a family member accuses you of theft. If you can, have someone else accompany you, to act as a witness. If this isn’t possible, use your phone to capture video of your movements within the property.
Coordinate the removal of their belongings.
What most property owners don’t know is that in the aftermath of an unattended death, paramedics and law enforcement aren’t legally required to handle the disinfection and cleanup of the property. This responsibility is left to you as the homeowner. Luckily, with the help of crime scene cleanup companies, your distressed property will be put through different types of extreme cleaning to keep your property safe and prevent the risk of developing serious health concerns.
Besides crime scene cleanup services, there are also biohazard cleanups, Coronavirus decontamination, suicide cleanup, hoarding cleanup, and unattended death cleanup. Death cleanup companies have special equipment that allows them to safely get rid of biohazard scenes. This biohazard cleanup involves blood cleaning, urine cleanup, fecal matter, rodent droppings, and other bio-hazardous waste generated from body decomposition. While crime scene cleaners aren’t required to console the families, they can show a level of empathy and confidentiality to the victim’s family during this difficult time.
Deal with the deceased individual’s lease agreement.
Landlords are required by law to maintain rental properties that satisfy “basic habitability requirements.” Some of these requirements involve providing a structurally safe building, an HVAC system that’s in good repair, and clean water, to mention a few. This being said, the deceased individual’s security deposit can be used to pay for the cost of repairs, such as electrical repairs, HVAC repairs, refrigerant leaks, emergency AC repairs, and any other necessary maintenance that the property requires. It can also go into paying for the biohazard cleaning service.
Before making an air conditioner repair, for instance, make a list of deductions you’re making from the late renter’s security deposit, paired with all the receipts so you can present this to their executor or next of kin. As a property owner, it’s also your responsibility to employ knowledgeable technicians to perform regular maintenance on the property, as well as to ensure that your building’s ductwork,
ventilation, and circuit breaker are in good condition.
Be sure to check with your local housing authority to confirm state-specific housing codes and penalities.