What happens to rental property when a landlord dies?

When an individual who owns rental properties passes away, their loved ones have an extra issue to deal with – tenants. Ideally, the tenants will continue to pay rent as they always have and abide by the terms of the written lease. Unfortunately, it is not all that uncommon for the tenant to stop paying rent or to abruptly move out of the rental property without giving the required notice. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important that you contact an attorney to begin the process of enforcing your rights so that you don’t end up with someone occupying a property that isn’t paying rent (especially if there is a mortgage on that property that still has to be paid).

            If there is a written lease agreement, both parties are required to comply with it. Depending on the terms of the lease, the eviction process in Tennessee usually requires a written demand to vacate the premises before you can ask a court to evict someone. Under no circumstances are you allowed to change the locks on an occupant or otherwise hinder them from accessing the premises, without a court order. Once the proper documents are filed in court to start the eviction process, and the occupant is served with a copy of those documents, a court date is set and all involved parties are required to appear. If the occupant fails to show up, the court will usually enter a default judgment requiring that the occupant vacate the premises. If the occupant does appear, the court will give both parties an opportunity to resolve the matter themselves before the hearing. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the court will hear what both parties have to say. If the court agrees that the occupant is no longer entitled to occupy the premises, the court will enter an order requiring that they vacate the premises usually within ten days and awarding any money damages you are entitled to.

            If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, you should seek competent legal counsel immediately. Our firm normally handles such matters and would be happy to speak with you.


About the Author

Amanda N. Jelks is licensed to practice law in Tennessee and Georgia. Jelks Law, PLLC focuses primarily on estate planning and probate matters - efficiently transferring assets after the loss of a loved one. Jelks Law was selected as the 2018 Emerging Business of the Year by the Urban League of Chattanooga. Amanda was selected as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers® for the last four years in a row. This award is given to less than 2.5% of attorneys in Tennessee who are under the age of 40 or have been practicing law less than 10 years. Schedule a time to speak with one of our attorneys today.