Tenant died in occupation

A tenant sadly died in one of our properties a short while ago.

He was a good tenant in many ways, always paid rent on time, never caused any nuisance, and stayed with us for about 11 years.

Our agent handed over all his personal effects to the hospital where he was taken to.

We had to completely refurbish this flat, as he was a heavy smoker (against contract terms) and not a cleaner. We knew this was coming as we had already redecorated the flat at our expense to help him out before we retired and moved overseas 5 years previously. The expense was considerable, amounting to over £3,000, ignoring the loss of rent and council tax liability during the refurb period.

During the first 3 months following his demise his rent continued to be paid by his bank on standing order. As there was no obvious next of kin, the agent is still waiting for someone to contact them in this regard, either the executors or probate. I say executors, as a letter was found from his granddaughter behind the kitchen units when ripped out, so unbeknown to us there appears to be family somewhere, obviously estranged, contrary to what he told us.

These excess rent payments would still not cover the period it took to totally refurbish the property, aside from the actual costs of refurbishment.

My agents are holding this money in their client account pending some contact. I have told them not to release this to any entity who contacts them until we have had an opportunity to submit our claim for the costs of refurbishment. They are reluctant to make any investigation to find out who’s handling his estate, as this will open a whole can of worms and probably cause them considerable effort.

Without contact with whoever is handling his estate, we are in limbo. I have previously asked my agent for details of their contact in the hospital but without success.

Has anybody any idea how I can find the pertinent entity I could communicate with in this regard?

Thank you, Chris

So, he’s been a perfect tenant of yours for 11 years and now your trying to find a way to get his estate to pay for your refurbishment by using the excuse that he was a smoker and unclean? If you were not happy with him you should have taken action against him within those 11 years prior to his death. Regardless of his death, after 11+ years you should be refurbishing the property anyway.

I find what your doing very unethical and gives us landlords a bad name. At the most keep his deposit, return his over payments, cancel the standing order and refurbish at your own expense. Do not involve yourself anymore with his estate/family (its none of your business), move on and get new tenants, rather than trying to take advantage of his death.

I agree completely with Oliver. After 11yrs you have no recourse to deduct for refurb costs it will all, at adjudication, be put down to fair wear and tear. You also did not bring up smoking and uncleanliness an regular inspection do you have no leg to stand on. Iam a professional, portfolio landlord with all relevant accreditation and amateurs like you Chris are what’s wrong with our sector. You should be ashamed of your post, frankly…

Is fraud. You already have the deposit, if not, your fault. The excess of rent doesn’t belong to you ANYWAY, that’s legacy for the next of kin, so get your mits off that amount, you’re not legally allowed to touch it. I agree with Oliver 1 in full.

I had a tenant die with no next of kin an eccentric gentleman with a hoarding obsession. I had to serve notice on the Official Solicitor and Public Trustee to end the end the tenancy with a Section 21 notice, as the tenancy doesn’t end with the death of the tenant. It was the only way out of the limbo. It took months and with storage of the tenant’s possessions and refurbishments it cost £17000. It is all part of the landlords responsibility.

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Thank you for your constructive advice Mike.

Unfortunately we have no way of finding who the correct entity is, as there is no record / registration of probate or executors.

I will search “Public Trustees” and see what transpires.

I also applaud your pragmatic attitude, and sympathies with your predicament.

What are you suggesting I have done that is fraudulent?

Where did I say I had any intention of keeping the overpaid rent?

Another bar room barrister, who allows his indignation to cloud any serious contribution.

Get your facts straight before you start throwing around your unfounded and misguided allegations and insults.

You make a number of false assumptions in your post that, in my mind, belie your claims of professionalism.

I am certainly not an amateur landlord, it has been my full time profession since Feb. 2002, with a current portfolio of 18 properties, and part time for an additional 20 years prior to that.

It would be interesting to hear what you believe constitutes the mantle ‘professional’ in your personal experience?

Perhaps it’s a mark of your illiteracy, or an arrogant / ignorant assumption, wherein you state, “you also did not bring up smoking and cleanliness in regular inspections”. I can assure you we most certainly have, and that we conduct all our business with integrity in a professional and competent manner.

Kindly be decent enough to keep your spurious opinions and slants on my professionalism to yourself, particularly as you cannot conceivably base them on any factual premise.

I, of course, bow to your psychic powers to predict the outcome of litigation without the hindsight of any evidential details. Being a professional landlord, I presume crystal ball gazing is simply a pastime for you! For the record, I am well aware of the courts attitude toward ‘wear & tear’, and my responsibilities in respect of periodic maintenance.

I would also be very interested to know what I should be ashamed of? Please do enlighten me, but take a look in the mirror beforehand, and see how your unfounded derogatory remarks stand up to scrutiny.