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  • Death of a Tenant

    On December 24, 2019 I had the rare opportunity of finding a deceased tenant in my RV parking lot, in his truck. He had over-dosed. He has a pickup truck, a 5th wheel trailer and a 10x25 storage unit here at our facility. No next of kin has contacted the county, but a "friend of the family" came in and wants me to release his stuff to him. No way! I'm sure the rent will never get paid, and I have been advised to just go ahead with the lien process and the DMV lien on his truck and trailer. My question is, what paperwork do I need to get in order to release his stuff to his sisters or his nephew? He was basically a transient, homeless most of the time, druggie. He always paid his rent, but was a pain in my backside. The police said since his truck and trailer are on private property, they can't do anything with it. I need to protect the facility owners from lawsuits! HELP!!
    Have you ever stopped to think and forgotten to start again?

  • #2
    The facility owners need to hire a lawyer to protect themselves. I would say this is not your job, you're the manager, you're not qualified to protect the owners from lawsuits.
    In no way affiliated with Storman software.

    Comment


    • #3
      Wow. And Yikes! If you go through the old feeds I posted and someone else (Lady?) posted what is needed.

      -Pasted-
      Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a self-storage operator to learn one of his tenants has passed away. This is often discovered when rent hasn’t been paid and late or lien notices are sent to the tenant’s last known address. It’s at this point relatives and friends may come forward seeking to access the unit, hoping to retrieve the deceased’s property.

      There are a couple of different scenarios that can play out in these circumstances. Based on the facts, a self-storage operator has a few legal options for how to respond.

      Access Code and Keys

      If a family member has the access code and keys to the unit (meaning he needs no action from the manager to enter the space), he can access the unit and, if warranted, remove the property from the rented space. This type of access is analogous to that for any rental property; a family member or friend who previously had access rights doesn’t immediately lose those rights when the tenant dies.

      However, it’s important to clarify that this permitted access is only possible when the self-storage manager isn’t involved in providing gate-code access or cutting the lock. If the facility operator is interested in addressing this possible situation right when the tenant moves in, he can add an addendum to the rental agreement that specifically lists the party who has access rights upon death of the tenant.

      If the family member does not have authorized access, the facility manager can’t allow that person into the unit. To gain access, the family member must provide the manager with copies of the death certificate and a court order stating that the family member been appointed as the administrator or executor of the estate. (This process can be quick or take up to 60 days.) Once he provides these documents, the family member can access the unit and decide if he wants to continue renting in the name of the tenant’s estate or terminate the rental agreement and remove the items. In either case, he must continue to pay rent on the unit to avoid foreclosure.

      Options for Small Estates

      If the deceased tenant had a small estate value ($15,000 to $150,000, depending on the state), the family may be able to obtain and prepare a Small Estate Affidavit or process the estate through a Summary Administration. A Small Estate Affidavit is a sworn document, signed by the family member, stating that the amount of the deceased estate is so low that it’s not going to be probated through the courts. Unfortunately, it’s only available in about 20 states.

      Once the family member provides the affidavit, the self-storage manager can give him access to the unit. The language of the affidavit must provide, under oath, that there are no competing claims being made by others concerning the property and the party signing the affidavit indemnifies the storage facility if a competing claim arises. In some states, the document must be filed with the court, with an order issued to verify the facts.
      There are instances when the facility operator learns a tenant has died and receives calls or visits from multiple family members, each making a claim to the unit contents. In this case, it’s important that he overlock the unit and instruct the family to go to the probate court and submit their claims there, understanding the court will issue a determination as to a rightful heir and proper party to take possession of the property.

      There are instances when the facility operator learns a tenant has died and receives calls or visits from multiple family members, each making a claim to the unit contents. In this case, it’s important that he overlock the unit and instruct the family to go to the probate court and submit their claims there, understanding the court will issue a determination as to a rightful heir and proper party to take possession of the property.

      Scott Zucker is a self storage lawyer and he wrote this.
      Even duct-tape can't fix stupid. But it can muffle the noises.

      WA State

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      • #4
        https://www.insideselfstorage.com/le...orage-business

        An even more updated article about the death of a tenant.
        Even duct-tape can't fix stupid. But it can muffle the noises.

        WA State

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        • #5
          What Storman said. Someone also needs to see if there are lien holders on the truck and trailer. If you do in fact do a lien process, that is a first step. The relatives would need legal paperwork of the death cert and paperwork giving them rights to the possessions.
          "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"

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          • #6
            Also make sure to overlock everything and shut down the gate code. You don't need someone (like the friend) coming into the facility after hours and trying to drive off with the vehicles or removing things from the unit. Like Pac said, check for lien-holders, and family need to provide court documentation naming administrator/executor and need death certificate. If no one comes forward, start the lien process like you would for any other tenant that doesn't pay.
            Too many freaks, not enough circuses.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Reebee View Post
              My question is, what paperwork do I need to get in order to release his stuff to his sisters or his nephew?
              There is nothing more that you can or could do.
              It would be up to any family member to go to probate court and say that they are the relative and the deceased has storage and that they wish to claim deceased family member's storage.
              The Judge if he allows it, will then order that the living family member can then access the unit provided that that family member pays any outstanding debt.
              I have had this happen and what my family member did was just to take what they wanted, they wanted the 2 safes that were in there and a bicycle.
              They left the other stuff behind and it was auctioned at the next sale.

              Sorry, you had to find him the way that you did.
              How awful.
              Keep us posted on how you will move forward.





              Don't put off until tomorrow, what you can do today.

              Comment


              • #8
                Well, an hour or so ago, the deceased's sister called. And she is the other name listed on the account. She doesn't have the code or the keys, but she was listed as the 2nd contact. We had her name and phone #, just didn't know who she was. Police seemed to think he had a brother and a wife. Neither have come forward, yet. I know he had a nephew. I appreciate the responses and the help as the owners have pretty much told me to "take care of this". Just one more chapter in my crazy book I need to write on my adventures in storage!!!
                Have you ever stopped to think and forgotten to start again?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Just because she is a "contact" on the account does not mean she has access.
                  "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Reebee View Post
                    Well, an hour or so ago, the deceased's sister called. And she is the other name listed on the account. She doesn't have the code or the keys, but she was listed as the 2nd contact. We had her name and phone #, just didn't know who she was. Police seemed to think he had a brother and a wife. Neither have come forward, yet. I know he had a nephew. I appreciate the responses and the help as the owners have pretty much told me to "take care of this". Just one more chapter in my crazy book I need to write on my adventures in storage!!!
                    Until she has the legal paperwork she has no access-I'd lock everything down and boot any vehicles to be on the safe side.
                    Even duct-tape can't fix stupid. But it can muffle the noises.

                    WA State

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      In California, there is a form that a family member can complete and have notarized if the estate is under $150,000 (which I would assume his is, under the circumstances.) With that, 40 days after the death this person would be given access.

                      I have used this many times in my 12 years in storage.

                      https://saclaw.org/wp-content/upload...l-property.pdf
                      MamaDuke

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Reebee, I'm sorry you had to discover him. Follow MamaDuke's link above and tell sister to deal with it. If you have good contact info for the sister, give her this information. And ask her about a wife, kids, etc. If she shows up with the small estate documentation notarized you are in the clear. If possible, place an ad in the local paper asking for family of Joe Smith to contact you. Don't mention his passing, just that you need to speak with close relative. For a $50 ad, it shows you did your best to find a needle in a haystack if anyone ever shows up contesting what you did. Document and cover your backside first and foremost. It is the owner's job to have an attorney handle it. DON'T do anything that makes you uncomfortable.
                        Gina 6k
                        twitter.com/GinaSixKudo
                        VM: Four-Oh-Eight- Seven-Eight-Oh-Eight-Oh-Seven-Nine
                        [email protected]



                        You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough!
                        I am not an attorney, just an experienced manager who is willing to share what I have learned. Your thoughts, practices or opinions may vary and neither of us may be right.

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                        • #13
                          Been a long there Reebee, sorry it was something like this. Hope you are doing good.
                          --
                          Ron

                          http://n6ach.com
                          http://laws.n6ach.com
                          [email protected]

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                          • #14
                            Sorry, one that you had to find him and two that the owner seems to have left it up to you to figure out. Sounds like everyone has been giving good advice and I hope that things go well for you. Best of luck and let us know how it works out.
                            The future depends on what you do in the present.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Gina6k View Post
                              Reebee, I'm sorry you had to discover him. Follow MamaDuke's link above and tell sister to deal with it. If you have good contact info for the sister, give her this information. And ask her about a wife, kids, etc. If she shows up with the small estate documentation notarized you are in the clear. If possible, place an ad in the local paper asking for family of Joe Smith to contact you. Don't mention his passing, just that you need to speak with close relative. For a $50 ad, it shows you did your best to find a needle in a haystack if anyone ever shows up contesting what you did. Document and cover your backside first and foremost. It is the owner's job to have an attorney handle it. DON'T do anything that makes you uncomfortable.
                              Thanks to all! And, Gina!! and AMS! It has been a long time since I've been on Self Storage Talk! But, honestly, my very first thought was..."Call Gina!!" His sister did show up with all of the necessary paperwork and she is trying to get all of his belongings out. Turns out he has 2 other storage units in 2 other cities! Apparently he is somewhat of a hoarder, had no known address, kinda just living on the street or in his truck.

                              This forum is absolutely THE BEST! Through my nearly 15 years in storage, I have always been able to get great advice from here. Sadly, our facility has been bought out and the new owners take over on March 3, 2020. I have chosen to not stay on. It's been quite the ride and I'm still threatening to write a book about this adventure we call storage. The stories are way too funny and bizarre to make up!!!!!!!!!!!
                              Have you ever stopped to think and forgotten to start again?

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