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  1. #1
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    Default How Does an Estate Give Notice to Terminate a Tenancy on Behalf of a Deceased Tenant

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: California

    My mother has been living in the same rent controlled apartment for 45 years and pays around 1/4 of the current market rent for a similar unit in her building. She pays month to month, her rent is current and a check was just mailed, paying her up through the end of February.

    My mother is about to go on home hospice care. I do not expect her to last for more than a week or two at best.

    I am her sole heir and the executor of her will. One of my concerns is the time it will take to clear out her apartment after she passes The time to sort and go through a 94 year old's lifetime of possessions will be time consuming, I live alone 50 miles away and am not in the best of health myself. I do not have room for her things at my place, and she does have many antiques and items of value that will need to be disposed of. At the rent she is paying, it will be cheaper to stretch things out and leave them at her apartment for several weeks where I can go back and forth as my health allows, instead of paying to have them moved to a storage facility near me and go through them more leisurely.

    My question here is this - Section 1946 of the Civil Code requires that a tenant give 30 days notice prior to termination. However, when the tenant dies in the middle of a prepaid rental period, does the clock change and what are the Estate's rights or responsibilities in such matters?

    For example, a check has been sent paying rent through the end of February. Let's assume my mother dies on January 30th. Must the Estate give notice then, or can it wait well into February, pay March's rent and give notice to end on March 31st?

    Your thoughts?

    And on another subject, can anyone point me to a checklist of things/tasks one must do when handling the death of another (forms, notifications, etc.) and when serving as the executor of a small estate (under $100k) where the executor is also the sole heir?

    I'm sorry if I seem so cold about this, but when the time comes I know I will be overwhelmed, so I want to accomplish as much as possible now, while I still have my head on straight.

    Thanks,

    L-1

  2. #2
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Estate Giving Notice on Behalf of a Deceased Tenant

    I'm sorry if I seem so cold about this
    You're not cold, your practical. You have my sympathies. I went through something similar when my mother died. I had to put my grief on hold while I took care of clearing out her apartment.

    My advice to you is based on that experience.

    My first suggestion is that you have her sign a Power of Attorney addressed to the apartment management authorizing you to act on her behalf with regard to the apartment. Take it to the management office (keep a copy, of course), introduce yourself to the management staff and explain that the rent will be paid as usual for as long as necessary. Also get some general Powers of Attorney if you don't have them already.

    When she passes the POA will no longer be valid and you'll need to get appointed representative of her estate by the probate court ASAP. The papers you get from the court will authorize you to continue administrating her estate. The CA court website has a very good self help section for probate:

    https://www.courts.ca.gov/8865.htm

    Make sure you are a beneficiary on her accounts so her money and investments bypass probate and become yours for immediate access.

    When she passes the estate has the same rights and obligations as she did. The timing doesn't change. If rent is due on the first you give notice on the first for move out by the end of the month.

    What I am about to say may be a bit upsetting but it is an unfortunate fact of life. Once she passes I suggest that you move into her apartment (if possible) and stay there until you have liquidated all of her belongings. Otherwise, things are going to turn up missing. Management and maintenance people have keys and sometimes temptation is great to sneak in to a vacant apartment and take things. If you aren't prepared to move in for whatever time it takes I suggest you hire one of those estate auction places. They will clear out everything that's valuable and auction it off for you. Household stuff you can either sell on Craigslist or give to Goodwill. My siblings were still working for a living and I was already retired so I moved in to my mother's apartment for three weeks and was able to sell and dispose of everything during that time, with my sibs helping on weekends. If one has to do that part time it could take months.

    Once you get your probate papers from the court you'll need to get an estate EIN from the IRS. Takes a few minutes online:

    https://sa2.www4.irs.gov/modiein/individual/index.jsp

    With that you open a checking account in the name of The Estate of __________ so you can deposit any incoming funds like the deposit refund, insurance refunds, medical insurance checks, etc. Anything made out to her you won't be able to cash otherwise.

    That's all I can think of at the moment. Feel free to ask anything specific that you need to know. And, as the weeks unfold, come back to this thread (don't start any new ones) if you need further help.

  3. #3
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Estate Giving Notice on Behalf of a Deceased Tenant

    The only thing of true value are the bank accounts. They are around $90K, are in both our names and are are pay on death.

    While she has some antique furniture. I seriously doubt it is collectively worth more that $2K if that. Everything else is elderly clothes, some used electronics that wouldn't bring much in a garage sale. There are a few specialty items that might bring another $2K total. It's more that lots of items are big, bulky and hard to move around to get rid of which means I need time.

    Will I still need to do probate court for so little?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Estate Giving Notice on Behalf of a Deceased Tenant

    Quote Quoting L-1
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    The only thing of true value are the bank accounts. They are around $90K, are in both our names and are are pay on death.
    Good.

    Quote Quoting L-1
    View Post

    While she has some antique furniture. I seriously doubt it is collectively worth more that $2K if that. Everything else is elderly clothes, some used electronics that wouldn't bring much in a garage sale. There are a few specialty items that might bring another $2K total. It's more that lots of items are big, bulky and hard to move around to get rid of which means I need time.
    Sell what you can on Craigslist as quickly as you can. Then call the charities that send out trucks to pick up the bigger items. If you can't get any to do that, offer the items for free on Craigslist. That's the best way to get rid of stuff you don't want to be bothered with. I had to do that at the last minute when the charity's truck broke down and they didn't show up. By the end of my last weekend there, the apartment was empty and ready to be surrendered to the co-op.

    Quote Quoting L-1
    View Post

    Will I still need to do probate court for so little?
    No, you shouldn't have to. At least not until you want something from some place and you get told you need your court papers. Happened when my mother died. My sibs and I wanted to avoid the probate court but her co-op wouldn't give us the time of day without the court papers and there was a lot of money that was due back from her co-op apartment. So off to court we went. Turns out we needed those papers for a couple of other things.

    You can wait until somebody wants them and then scramble to get them, or you can get them right away and have them handy for any contingency.

    Read the self help guide I linked you to. There's a simplified administration for small estates consisting of household goods.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Estate Giving Notice on Behalf of a Deceased Tenant

    Got it. Thanks!

    I'll be back if I need more.

  6. #6
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    Jul 2018
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    Default Re: Estate Giving Notice on Behalf of a Deceased Tenant

    Quote Quoting L-1
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    My question here is this - Section 1946 of the Civil Code requires that a tenant give 30 days notice prior to termination. However, when the tenant dies in the middle of a prepaid rental period, does the clock change and what are the Estate's rights or responsibilities in such matters?
    The "clock" does not change, and the estate will be liable for rent through the termination of the tenancy and the surrender of the premises to the landlord.

    Quote Quoting L-1
    View Post
    For example, a check has been sent paying rent through the end of February. Let's assume my mother dies on January 30th. Must the Estate give notice then, or can it wait well into February, pay March's rent and give notice to end on March 31st?
    The executor can give notice whenever he deems it reasonable to do so.

    If I were you, I'd speak with the landlord as soon as possible, explain the situation, and tell him/her what your plan is. Since the apartment is rent-controlled, the landlord's ability to terminate the tenancy will be extremely limited (obviously, it depends on the specifics of the rent-control ordinance). At worst, the landlord will have to give 60 days' notice to terminate without cause.

    P.S. It would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with Division 8 of the Probate Code (titled "Disposition of Estate without Administration") and, in particular, Chapter 3 of Part 1 of Division 8 ("Affidavit Procedure for Collection or Transfer of Personal Property").

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Estate Giving Notice on Behalf of a Deceased Tenant

    I’m back with a couple quick questions.

    I’ve spent the past few months cleaning mom’s apartment out and getting it ready for return to the landlord. Rent has continued to be paid at the current rate.

    Although rent was paid through the end of March, the apartment was vacated on March 28th and the keys were returned to the property management company on that date. Previously, the property management company agreed in writing to waive a walk through inspection and return the full security deposit as they intended to gut the apartment and remodel it.

    I just noticed that 32 have gone by and the security deposit has not been returned. (21 day rule) I was about to rattle the management company’s cage about the issue, but thought I should first pull out mom’s rental documents to make sure I knew what I was talking about. It seems the deposit was for much less that I thought (only $50), however, I discovered that when she first rented the place in 1973, she paid both first and last month’s rent in advance. Back then, rent was only $420 per month.

    I have two questions here –

    1. Does the $420 mom paid in 1972 as last month’s rent apply as the full rent for March 0f 2019, or simply apply against the amount of current rent for March of 2019?

    2. If it applies as full rent, does the 21 day rule regarding refund of security deposits apply to the refund of my rent overpayment?

    Thanks all!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Estate Giving Notice on Behalf of a Deceased Tenant

    Quote Quoting L-1
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    I have two questions here –

    1. Does the $420 mom paid in 1972 as last month’s rent apply as the full rent for March 0f 2019, or simply apply against the amount of current rent for March of 2019?

    2. If it applies as full rent, does the 21 day rule regarding refund of security deposits apply to the refund of my rent overpayment?
    The management has been cooperating with you for the last couple of months. Rather than throwing a law book at them why not just go in and ask about the security deposit and the overpayment.

    At the beginning of March did you give the 30 days notice? If not than it could be said that rent was owed for April and that the last month's rent and the $50 applied to April rent.

    If you don't get a satisfactory response you'll have to decide whether you go to small claims court on behalf of the estate or just let it go.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Estate Giving Notice on Behalf of a Deceased Tenant

    I had no intention of waiving the law book under their nose, at least at the moment.

    It was agreed that they would waive 30 days notice. They also agreed there would be no move out inspection as they intended to gut the place. They were also put on notice that the place was vacant, that I was the Executor of the Estate and that all communications should be directed to me at a second address I gave them. Then, out of the blue I received a notice sent by them to my dead mother at the apartment's address (and forwarded to me) reminding her that a walk through was needed, that the apartment was not deemed vacant until she turned in the keys and that there was no security deposit.

    My assumption is this was a clerical error. I have not responded yet as I wanted to first find the 46 year old lease and get my ducks in a row. In the mean time, that's why I'm checking in here, to know where I stand in case someone at the management company has changed their mind.

    .

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Estate Giving Notice on Behalf of a Deceased Tenant

    Quote Quoting L-1
    View Post
    I had no intention of waiving the law book under their nose, at least at the moment.

    It was agreed that they would waive 30 days notice. They also agreed there would be no move out inspection as they intended to gut the place. They were also put on notice that the place was vacant, that I was the Executor of the Estate and that all communications should be directed to me at a second address I gave them. Then, out of the blue I received a notice sent by them to my dead mother at the apartment's address (and forwarded to me) reminding her that a walk through was needed, that the apartment was not deemed vacant until she turned in the keys and that there was no security deposit.

    My assumption is this was a clerical error. I have not responded yet as I wanted to first find the 46 year old lease and get my ducks in a row. In the mean time, that's why I'm checking in here, to know where I stand in case someone at the management company has changed their mind.

    .
    Maybe the notice was computer generated?
    I'm not a lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.......

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