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What If a Tenant Dies?

As a landlord, you must be aware of what the process is if unfortunately, a tenant passes away in an investment property.

According to the ABS 2011 Census of Population and Housing lone persons make up a quarter of the rental households in Queensland.

Tenancies do not necessarily end when a tenant dies which subsequently means that the property owner cannot automatically reclaim the property or remove the tenant’s personal items without having to follow a certain procedure.

Even terminating tenancies have rules to be conformed with and they are as follows:

Serving notice

The tenancy can end in 2 weeks from the time the property owner/landlord serves the notice to end the agreement to the tenant’s relatives or representatives.

On the other hand, the tenancy formally ends 2 weeks after the tenant’s representative/relative gives a notice of termination of the tenancy to the property owner/manager.

End date agreed to by both parties

Instead of giving each other notices, both parties can mutually agree on a date to end the tenancy. When you opt for this course, it is important that you put your agreement in writing and make sure that it is signed by you or your property manager and the tenant’s representative/relative.

Application to QCAT

In other cases, some would send an application to terminate the tenancy to QCAT. QCAT will then decide when the tenancy end date will be.

When no notices were issued

In cases where no application to QCAT was made to end the tenancy or when no notices were given by either the relatives/representative or the landlord, the tenancy ends 1 month after the tenant’s death. This applies in both periodic agreements and fixed terms.

Death is indeed a tragedy and as expected, it is a sensitive time for family and friends. Before you start working on the paperwork, it would be important to show empathy for their grief and ask about what their plans are.

Communicating with the next of kin

The first thing that a property owner/manager has to do when they discover that a tenant is deceased, is to notify the authorities. The police will then ask for the contact details of the tenant’s next of kin. This information could be found on the tenancy forms. This is why it is important for the landlord to ask their tenants to update their emergency contact information every few years or when necessary.

Bond claims

When a tenant dies, it is the RTA which will deal with the bond claims. To make sure that the process runs smoothly, the next of kin or the executor of the tenant’s estate is required to submit a written notification in order to discuss any bond payout.

If there is money owed by the tenant, the landlord/property manager must itemise each cost on the Refund of rental bond form (Form 4).

Disputes

Sometimes, when it comes to claims, conflicts cannot be avoided. And more often than less, these are highly emotional. The RTA conciliator will make sure that only authorised parties can act on behalf of the deceased tenant and then facilitate the dispute and ensure that common ground is reached.