What are a landlord’s rights to access a unit if a tenant dies?

My dad suddenly passed away about a week ago. His landlord is already showing the inside of the residence. Our dad’s personal possessions are still out everywhere as he left because we just buried him yesterday. Do we have any rights as the only surviving heirs to delay this? I mean, really no time to grieve and remove his things.

Asked on September 4, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, it does not matter whether or not you are the heirs, or have had to grieve--heirs do not inherit a rental property. A lease is a contract personal to the tenant; when he or she dies, the right to occupancy or tenancy ends and cannot be passed on. Furthermore, a landlord always has a right to show a premises to prospective tenants, even during an existing tenant's residence (though in that case, the landlord must at least provide notice of showing the apartment). What  your landlord is doing may be insensitive, but it is not illegal; the landlord is not obligaged to leave income producing property alone, and accept a loss, by delaying rerenting or showing the apartment after a tenant has passed away.


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