A friend of mine owns a property and rents some of the rooms on a month to month basis. One of the roommates committed suicide in one of the rooms. Next of kin wants the security deposit. Obviously there was no notice of lease termination. The lease is / was month to month. Does my friend have to return the deposit? Niether he nor the family know whether or not the roommate died intestate. How does one find this out? And IF he returns the security deposit to whome does it go? Probate court? What if a will is found later? What about the stuff in her room? To whom does that belong?
Your friend is entitled to treat the security deposit the same as if the resident had moved out without notice, make the appropriate deductions for cleaning and the unpaid rent for 30 days. The only way to tell if someeone died intestate is if you find a will. Then you know they didn’t. But that is not relevant to your friend. Someone has to go to the probate court and get authority to administer the estate, whether there is a will or not. Your friend should do nothing with, and allow nothing to be done with the tenant’s property until there is a court authorized administrator. Once there is a court authorized administrator, your friend can let them have the posessions and responsibility for getting things to the proper heir is on the admininstrator. The same is true for the deposit funds if there are any left over after legitimate deductions.
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