What happens to the lease when a tenant dies

What happens to the lease when a tenant dies?

The tenancy agreement is signed, the tenant moves in, and is happily living in your investment property and then you get ‘the phone call’. Generally, it is a call from your property manager but sometimes it can be from a relative or even the police.

The death of a tenant during any contract often terminates the agreement immediately but this can become a grey area depending on the situation. In the event that there are two tenants on the lease, the remaining tenant may choose to stay in the property or negotiate with the owner to end the tenancy agreement.

If a sole tenant dies, written notice by a family member can be provided to end the tenancy with two weeks notice. If no notice is received from family or the deceased estate, the tenancy agreement will end in one month.

In our experience, it can often be quite a sad and confronting time. The family/estate has obligations to remove all of the tenant’s belongings, clean the property and return all keys within the two-week timeframe, but they are generally also arranging a funeral and sorting out financial matters.

Being respectful of the family during this time is paramount, but this has to be balanced with getting on with our role of reletting the property. Communication is paramount in these situations and property managers and owners can assist by offering help by way of arranging removalists, cleaning and gardeners.

The bond can also be claimed immediately and used for cleaning and gardening costs and for removing any unwanted items to assist the family. If the process takes longer then expected, landlord insurance may cover any loss of rent.

Unfortunately, there are some instances where a tenant may die in the rental property itself. Depending on the cause and situation, again an insurance claim may need to be lodged and it is recommended to contact your insurance company immediately if this has occurred.

Unfortunately, as property managers, the death of a tenant, sometimes an owner, happens a couple of times of years. Compassion and empathy are essential qualities needed by a property manager. If you find yourself in this situation and need any guidance please feel free to give us a call on
07 4642 0007.