If you own a property where a death has occurred, you may find it difficult to dispose of your property. First of all there are laws that can prevent you from taking possession of the property. Secondly, the house’s particular notoriety is something you may be legally obligated to disclose to possible future buyers. Despite these obstacles, all is not lost– or at least it does not have to be. Here are some tips for dealing with a property where a death has occurred.
If You Were Renting the Property Out
If you were renting the property to a tenant who passed and there were no other adult tenants on the rental agreement, then you may not be able to take immediate possession of the property. If the tenant rented the property month to month, then the tenant’s passing can signal a 30 day notice. If the tenant had a longer lease, the death does not necessarily signal a termination of the lease. You should contact the tenant’s next of kin or estate to make arrangements for removal of the tenant’s belongings and any unpaid rent or fees that are not covered by the deposit. Other things that need to be done include:
- Contacting a crime scene cleanup company if the death was especially violent. This must wait until police are done with the scene, however.
- Change locks to prevent any friends or family members who might also have a key from entering the residence. Until an executor is named for the estate, you are responsible for the deceased’s belongings.
- If family members would like to enter the property and remove any belongings, you should accompany them. Take note of who entered, the time and date and all items removed.
- Once you establish communication with the estate’s executor, you can give a key to him or her and allow that person to take responsibility for the deceased’s assets.
If You Are Trying to Sell
When you are trying to sell a property where a death has taken place, the procedure is a little different. Many states have laws requiring a death in house disclosure to buyers. Not disclosing this information might make a sale happen a lot sooner, but could get you in a lot of hot water. When the next door neighbor reveals the gruesome details to the new owners or when they find evidence that might have ended up on the news. In cases like this its advised to hire a biohazard cleanup crew before doing any remodeling or clean up.
If you plan to sell immediately after the event, you will have to accept the fact that you are not going to get the market value of the home. If you can afford to wait for a few years, you will fare better. After a few years the stigma around the house will have died down a bit. In the meantime, try renting the place out. This will prevent vandals from breaking in. Having the property occupied also goes a long way toward erasing or at least softening its history.
When a tragedy occurs in a property, it is best to deal with things quickly. If you hope to sell the property, you must disclose its history to buyers. If you were the landlord at the time of the tenant’s death, then you are responsible for the tenant’s property until the estate can clear it, so get in touch with the family quickly. If you deal with the matter quickly and appropriately, you can save yourself a lot of grief later.
February 28, 2018