Do you know what to do if ever one of your tenants dies and it is unattended? Do you know who to contact first? Do you know that you have to contact the police?
If you manage properties and you want to be fully prepared when it comes to handling unattended death in your rental property, this step-by-step guide is for you. It will discuss everything you need to be fully aware of to ensure that all legal and standard protocols are done. Please feel free to share this with fellow rental owners so that they may be aware and fully prepared should they have to deal with such a situation.
Handling and processing death is never easy so we hope that this detailed guide will make everything easier for rental owners to handle unattended tenant death. This step-by-step guide includes acts that should be done before, during, and after the incident.
Step 1: Look for the emergency contact information.
This is something that should be done during the rental application process. Ensure that all your renters provide emergency contact information. You should never skip this step as it will make everything easier for you.
Step 2: Verify the emergency contact information.
Always verify the given emergency contact information. As your tenants can sometimes rush the application process, it’s always best to have every detail verified. Do this by immediately contacting the given emergency contact person. This is to check if the number is still active and the person given truly exists. You should always trust, but never forget to verify.
Step 3: Maintain proper storage.
You should keep all your collected information in a fireproof place. It’s better if you have a secured online copy.
Step 4: Regularly update emergency contact information.
Always update your tenant’s emergency contact information. Do it as often as they renew their lease. A yearly update is best.
Step 5: Keep the contact number of a known after death clean up company or death scene cleanup professional.
To be fully prepared, you should keep the number of a reliable after-death clean-up company or death scene cleanup professional. Ask your friends if they can recommend a company that they’ve already worked with. Having one is highly advisable as they know how to handle bio-hazards and toxic items.
Step 6: Research funeral homes.
You should prepare a list of all local funeral homes that you can contact. Having this list will make it easier for you to have the remains handled properly.
Step 7: Double-check your Landlord’s Dwelling Policy.
Review your insurance policy. Ensure that it covers loss of rental earnings due to unattended death.
Step 8: Reach out to the police as soon as possible.
You should contact the police as soon as you’re aware that someone died on your rental property. Do not touch any items as all will be considered for investigation by proper authorities. Don’t linger in the area as there can be health-related concerns. Don’t do anything with the premises until you have the consent of the police.
Step 9: Plan for the removal of the body.
Once you’re allowed by the police to remove the body, you should then proceed in removing the body from your property. It’s best if an after-death clean-up company like Aftercare can help you with this.
Step 10: Have the premises secured.
Duly change the locks in the property. You don’t know who has extra keys so it’s best to have it extra safe.
Step 11: Have a reassuring talk with the other tenants.
If you run a multiple-unit building, you should dedicate time to your other tenants. You should reassure them and update them on all necessary information regarding the incident. If what transpired is a crime scene, you should keep confidential details to yourself.
Step 12: Ring your insurance company.
Contact your insurance company to check on what your policy allows to be covered. Do this as soon as possible.
Step 13: Do not remove personal belongings.
Don’t let other people remove the belongings of the deceased. Only ones enlisted as emergency contact persons should have access to the belongings of the deceased. Wait for the police’s consent if you’re dealing with a crime scene.
Step 14: Keep a clear and transparent documentation of people who get hold of the possessions.
This is to ensure that no disputes will take place in the future.
Step 15: Settle possession of belongings in court.
If the emergency contact information you have is outdated, you will need to go to court to have the arrangement for the possessions settled.
Step 16: Acquire legal possession of the property.
Seek legal help to have legal possession of the property as soon as possible. You are free to apply the deceased tenant’s security deposit for the process.
Step 17: Contact a professional cleaning company.
You should have a professional cleaning company handle the sanitation and disinfection of your property. Do not do it on your own as there are toxic materials and bio-hazards that you’re not fit and prepared enough to handle. Let professionals handle it for you.
Step 18: Have the unit prepared for renting again.
Once cleaned, you can have install new flooring and apply fresh paint. You may then have it rented again.
Step 19: Be updated on property history disclosure requirements.
Research if your state requires you to disclose rental history. If it is required by law, you should be fully transparent and clear with the situation.
Step 20: Evaluate the entire experience.
You should reflect and evaluate every process and action that you’ve undertaken after everything has been attended to. Take note of things that you need to be extra careful of and things you can improve on. With this last step, you’d be able to easily handle any kind of similar situation in the future should a similar situation arise.