What happens when a landlord passes away?

What happens when a landlord passes away?A tenant recently contacted me and expressed concern that he learned the landlord had passed away and the property was being administered through probate. Naturally, he had many questions – was he obligated to continue to pay rent during the probate, and if so, who does he pay the rent to, and how will the probate affect his tenancy.

When a person owns rental real estate in Nevada, and the property ownership is solely in his or her name (as opposed to a trust, a limited liability company or a corporation), the property is subject to the probate process. This process involves the opening of a probate case in the District Court and the appointment of a person to be in charge of the Decedent’s Estate known as the Personal Representative.

The Personal Representative may elect to sell the rental real property or to have it remain in the Estate and eventually it will be distributed pursuant to a court order to the Decedent’s beneficiaries or heirs. The lease agreement between a tenant and landlord does not terminate upon the death of the landlord.* The successor in interest to the property, whether it is through a sale during the probate or distribution to heirs or beneficiaries upon conclusion of the probate, become obligated as the successor landlord. These parties do not have a right to evict the tenant prior to the termination of the lease term.

Tenants should continue to pay rent even after learning of the death of a landlord. They should be leery of any person who contacts them and says the rent should be paid directly to them. The person appointed by the court as the Personal Representative will be issued Letters Testamentary (if they are named in the Decedent’s Will) or Letters of Administration. The tenant should request a copy of the Letters to ensure that payments are being made to the appropriate person. The Personal Representative is obligated to notify the tenant in writing of the name, address and telephone number of the landlord’s successor in interest and that their security deposit is being transferred. The successor in interest must accept the tenant’s security and cannot require any additional security deposit during the remaining term of the lease agreement. NRS 118A.244.

* However, a different rule may apply to tenants. In the event of the death of a co-tenant or a spouse of tenant, the lease may be terminated by the tenant upon 60 days’ written notice within three months after the death. NRS 118A.340

Drizin Law is providing this information for educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. This information is based on general principles of Nevada law at the time it was created and you should be aware laws frequently change. Moreover, the laws affecting you may differ depending on the circumstances. You should consult with a qualified attorney in your own state or jurisdiction concerning your particular situation. Review of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.