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What Happens If My Landlord Dies in San Francisco?

What happens if my landlord dies? As a California tenant, it is important to know what to expect from your landlord’s death and how it could affect your lease by working with our Home seasoned San Francisco landlord-tenant attorneys.

At Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C., we can explain the impact a landlord’s death can have on the tenant and the landlord’s family. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, contact us now and schedule an initial consultation to discuss your legal options.

Why Do I Need a Landlord-Tenant Lawyer in California?

Death is not planned, and sometimes, it happens when you least expect it. Therefore, it is crucial to know what happens when your landlord dies. Your tenant’s rights and obligations on the day after your landlord dies are the same as they were on the day before your landlord died, whether there was a will or not.

At Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C., our trusted San Francisco landlord-tenant lawyers are committed to:

  • Helping you determine the best course of action in handling your landlord’s death.
  • Doing everything in our power to successfully resolve your landlord-tenant case or real estate dispute in as little time as possible.
  • Explaining the legal issues in your case, answering your questions, and keeping you informed of developments throughout the process.
  • Learning and analyzing the details of your case and providing an initial outline of your possible legal options.
  • Providing responsive and client-focused legal help and representation for your landlord-tenant dispute and real estate law case in San Francisco, CA, and the Bay Area.

If your landlord dies and you have troubling questions about how you can preserve your home and financial rights, contact us now and schedule an initial consultation with our California landlord-tenant lawyers to learn more about your legal options.

What Happens If My Landlord Dies?

If your landlord dies, your rights depend on whether you have a lease in effect and what state you live in. Every state and city has its own rental regulations that dictate what should happen in the event a landlord passes away. It’s always best to seek legal advice from our knowledgeable San Francisco landlord-tenant lawyer to learn more about California laws that are at play and your rights as a renter.

Generally, your tenant obligations and rights will remain the same even after your landlord dies, with or without the will. However, terms of engagement may change with the new owner, hence the need to be prepared.

Rent Payment

Just because your landlord isn’t alive to collect rent doesn’t mean you can forgo making the monthly payment. If you fail to pay rent on time, you’ll be in breach of the lease and could get evicted for non-payment.

When a landlord dies, you have the option to put the rent check into an escrow account at the bank until the new owner or the administrator of the deceased’s estate contacts you. Before you know who to pay the rent to, you should know that the administrator is entitled to collect all the rent until the property is transferred to the next owner or heir.

If the landlord owned the property with a surviving spouse, or if it is co-owned with another joint tenant, the property may pass automatically to that person when he or she dies. If the landlord owned the property in his or her sole name and did not leave a will, the heirs at law shall inherit.

The Lease Rules

A lease is a legal contract signed by you and the landlord. In this document, you both agree that you will rent the premises for a set amount of time for a given amount of money. If a landlord dies, the tenancy does not end. Lease agreements transfer with the property, and the new owner has to uphold them.

The tenancy becomes the responsibility of the landlord’s estate throughout probate before being passed on to the landlord’s beneficiaries, who will become the new landlords as per the instructions of the will. If you are renting an apartment under a lease, there is nothing to worry about when your landlord dies, as the lease must be honored by the following owner of the rental property.

Security Deposit

If you gave the landlord a security deposit, it would also be transferred to the estate administrator while probate is pending. Then, that deposit is transferred to the heir who inherits. When you leave, the heir is obliged to return the security deposit to you.

Eviction Notice Requirements

California law requires landlords and property owners–new or old–to give a 30-day advance written notice to tenants who have lived in the rental unit for less than one year. In all other cases, the landlord must give a 60-day notice. These notices apply to cases in which the tenants are in full compliance with the lease, especially with paying the rent.

If you do not have a lease, your lease has expired, or your lease is for a month-to-month tenancy, the new owners can choose to evict you. Therefore, it is crucial to continue to pay rent after the landlord or property owner has died. Until you receive notice redirecting your rent, continue delivering it to the location specified in your lease.

Rent Control

California law prevails in determining what type of eviction notice is required unless the city in which the property is located has a more restrictive rule. In California, several cities have local rent control ordinances. Most rent control ordinances restrict evictions to “just cause.” A just cause eviction means tenants can only be evicted for a good reason, such as unpaid rent or lease violation.

Call Our Competent San Francisco Landlord-Tenant Lawyer Now!

When your landlord dies, one of the most important things to do is to understand your renting situation. One major concern for both tenants and heirs alike is the disposition of property after a rental property owner or landlord dies. Generally, your rights and obligations as a tenant depend on state laws and whether or not you have a written lease still in effect.

If you’re facing this difficult situation, our experienced San Francisco landlord-tenant attorneys at Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C. can explain everything you need to know about what happens if your landlord dies. Our landlord-tenant law firm has extensive experience in representing clients who are facing landlord-tenant disputes and real estate litigation. Our legal team is here to help you balance the rights of landlords and property owners with the rights of tenants. Contact us now and schedule an initial consultation with our top-ranking California landlord-tenant lawyers.

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We will do everything in our power to successfully resolve your landlord-tenant case or real estate dispute in as little time as possible. We have the resources to take on complex real estate cases and the size to keep you from becoming more than just a case file.”

Steven Adair MacDonald
& Partners, P.C.



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