What are a a tenants rights if their landlord dies?

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What are a a tenants rights if their landlord dies?

Been renting house 4 years and now landlord has passed away. We have never had a lease in place.  A lady claiming to be the sister mailed us and said we need to pay rent to her. We have not gotten any legal documentation instructing us to do this. She is now harassing us by banging on the door. We don’t know her and won’t pay rent to a stranger. I called her 3 months ago and asked if she was the executor and she said not yet. I said at such time we will then pay if we are required. We are moving 09/30 but she is now disturbing us. What rights do we have? When are we forced to move?

Asked on August 23, 2010 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am sorry for your situation. In most states you can stay until the estate gives you 30 days notice to leave on the month to month tenancy.  Here, though, you have not paid the rent so a summary proceeding to get you out quickly could happen when the executor is appointed. You have the obligation to pay the rent to the estate of the decedent.  You are right not to pay it to just anyone who comes along and claims to be "being appointed" as the executor and whom you do not know.  But you still do have an obligation to pay.  You may want to consider paying the rent in to court in the meantime.  This way you are doing the right thing and she can have nothing to say.  I understand that you are leaving the premises on September 30th.  You need to give 30 days notice.  Check and see if there is a Probate filed in Court and check and see if there is an attorney listed for the probate.  I would write to the attorney and advise him or her that you are moving.  I would also write to "The Estate of so and so" at your landlord's old address and send it by certified mail.  You could do same with the rent checks.  They can not be cashed unless deposited in to an estate account.  Good luck.


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