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  1. #1

    Default Who is Responsible for Property Cleanup if Tenant Dies

    Recently my father passed away. He rented a house for 15 years (I grew up in this house, but at the time of his death he lived there alone). There has not been a lease in at least 14 years. His death was unfortunately a suicide. The landlords are harassing us (my sisters and I) about the condition of the house and are giving us 10 days to clean up the property and are claiming that they want anything of value in the house to cover the cost of the damages. Some people have told us to just leave the house alone and let them clean it out because they are being so insensitive to the situation, and that legally they are responsible for the property cleanup if the tenant passes away. The landlords have threatened taking us to court over this but I don't see how they have a case. What should we do? Legally who is responsible for this???

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Who is Responsible for Property Cleanup if Tenant Dies

    Your father was the sole tenant? Then his estate is liable for its debts. If his estate lacks the assets to pay, the debts go unpaid - debts are not inherited. Was an estate opened? Does the estate have any assets?

    Assuming that there are no assets to speak of, the issue for you is, do you want anything that may be in the home? You would need access in order to recover items of personal property.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Who is Responsible for Property Cleanup if Tenant Dies

    15 years ago when he signed the lease him and my mother were both tenants. The lease was for 1 year but they stayed and never renewed a new lease. During the time that my parents were living there the house changed ownership from father to daughter. A few years ago my parents divorced and since my father was the sole tenant. A new lease was never signed. My father had some machinery and tools in the property that was of slight value but other then that there was nothing. He had no money, no savings or anything. I am not local, but my sisters and I are very young (in our early 20's) and the landlords are acting as if we are responsible for his mess and are threatening a lawsuit if we don't clean it up. I just don't see how they can do that.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Who is Responsible for Property Cleanup if Tenant Dies

    As Mr. Knowitall said, your father's estate is liable for his debts. But, that does not mean that the landlord can just keep his personal property. If you have a key, I recommend that you go and remove all personal property (furniture, tools, household items, etc.) that you want. Do that immediately as part of the cleanup of the property that the landlord has demanded. How much of a cleanup you do beyond that is entirely up to you. -- assuming that the landlord has access, he may have already or may soon steal items and you'd have no knowledge of that and no way to prove it.

    The landlord has no cause to sue you - that doesn't guaranty that he won't name you in a suit anyway, but if he does, your defense is very simple. His claim is against your father's estate. Since there is nothing there, the landlord really has no where to go and, unless he is very stupid, he won't waste his money filing a suit.

    So, in short. (1) Remove whatever personal property you want to (2) once done with that, inform the landlord that your father's estate has no assets and you personally are not liable for farther cleanup or any of his debts and (3) go on with your life.

    If the landlord does sue, the executor (I'm assuming you) would have to respond to the suit, but indicating that the estate has no assets will shut that down pretty quickly.

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