A BLOG about:

  • Exclusively about Arizona landlord and tenant law (commercial and residential).
My Photo


« Can I "Walk Away" from my property/mortgage? | Main | Must an out-of-state owner/landlord have a local property manager? »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I live in Arizona. My husband and I were separated, but still married. He died while renting a room from a homeowner in which the owner was also a resident. The homeowner did not return my phonecalls, voicemails or text messages for 3-weeks after his death. During that period, he removed the deadbolt and doorknob allowing access to the room. There was also another person in the home who rented a room. When he finally allowed me to come over which was 3-days short of a full month after his death, I walked into an empty room as the belongings were stolen. My children have nothing to remember their father by. I believe since my spouse was a "roomer", that made the homeowner a landlord and he had a responsibility to either allow myself (next of kin) to remove the property or he would have needed to store it. Niether happened. What are my remedies?

Response by Carlton C. Casler. Call the police. His personal property was stolen; they should investigate who took it. If the homeowner took any of the personal property, then you also have a civil claim against the homeowner for conversion. Yes, the facts you gave me indicate your husband was a "roomer" and the homeowner was a "Landlord" under the Landlord/Tenant Act.

Does the tenant's death terminate the lease? Does the landlord have to move the tenant's personal property into a storage unit and try to re-rent in order to mitigate his/her damages? (Assume only one tenant and that tenant dies.)

By the way, I love your book!

Answer by Carlton C. Casler: Whether the terminates upon death or is binding upon the tenant's or the landlord's estate will depend on the language of the lease; some lease provide the lease terminates upon death, while other leases provide the lease is binding upon the heirs of tenant and the landlord. As for the duty to mitigate, the landlord always has a duty to mitigate Damages. "Reasonable" (not "heroic") efforts must be made to re-rent the property. Any personal property that the landlord moves and stores must be moved with care and stored securely.

what if there is still rent due on the lease but the landlord agrees to terminate the lease upon the death. Is the roommate responsible for the future rent? Can the landlords keep the last months rent and deposit for future months?

Answer by Carlton C. Casler: Short and seemingly simple questions, but the answers depend on many factors. If two unrelated tenants and one dies, the survivor remains fully liable for all the rent that comes due until the end of the lease term. The landlord would also have a claim against the deceased tenant's estate, provided the lease is written so that it is binding upon the tenant's heirs. If the last month's rent is prepaid, it is to be applied to the last month's rent. Contrary to what is generally believed, the security deposit is not automatically "forfeited" upon a default by the tenant. The landlord must calculate his/her damages and then apply the security deposit to the amounts due; if there is money left over, it goes to the tenant, if there is not enough to cover all the damages, the landlord may send the tenant a bill and, if not paid, may file a civil lawsuit to collect the full amount due. In all cases, a landlord must either: (1) refund ALL of the refundable deposits or (2) provide the tenant with an "itemized statement of deductions" that the landlord is making from the tenant's deposits, along with a check to the tenant for the remainder of the tenant's deposit (if any). (See A.R.S. Section 33-1321).

The comments to this entry are closed.