Verella’s Round-Up: What do I do when my elderly tenant has been taken to a nursing home?

 

verella osborne

Verella Osborne, President, Legal Document Management, Inc.


What do I do when my elderly tenant has been taken to a nursing home?

  1. First, contact the nursing home’s Social Worker to determine if the tenant will be returning. If not, arrange the removal of the tenant’s property and turnover of possession of the rental unit with the Social Worker and have her arrange to have the tenant sign an Agreed Turnover of Possession/Release form or, if the tenant is completely incapacitated, have the Social Worker sign the form. The nursing home staff will also frequently contact the tenant’s family and arrange everything. Note: sometimes your attorney has to contact the nursing home director to obtain their cooperation.
  2. If the nursing home staff won’t assist you, contact the tenant’s “emergency contact” or relative on his application. (This is why you should have a minimum of 2 contacts and the information should be updated with every lease renewal.) Try to arrange for an amicable turnover of possession and removal of property by the tenant’s family, but allow no one to go into the unit or remove anything unless they have a signed authorization from the tenant; if the tenant is so incapacitated as to be unable to sign such an authorization, and if the tenant’s agent is one of the emergency contacts listed on the signed application, then you may allow the agent to sign an Agreed Turnover of Possession/Release form which states she is authorized by the tenant to do so.
  3. If neither of the above options is viable, OR IF THE VALUE OF THE TENANT’S PROPERTY IS SIGNIFICANT and you cannot obtain the tenant’s personal signature on a release document – wait for the rent to become due and unpaid and serve the tenant with a 5-Day Notice in the nursing home/hospital and file an eviction suit after the cure period has expired. You’ll have to endure the usual eviction process, and perhaps wait for the Sheriff to forcibly evict, but this is the only way to be 100% innocent of a wrongful eviction suit filed either by the tenant or by the tenant’s heirs.
  4. IF A TENANT DIES and is not alive in a home/hospital, you must have a family member provide proof he/she is “in charge of” the deceased tenant’s estate: letters of office, court order appointing administrator/executor, copy of Will, etc. E.g., a property owner’s tenant died and the tenant’s daughter appeared, signed the turnover/release document as an authorized agent of the tenant and removed all the tenant’s property. A few days later, another daughter appeared to remove her mother’s property and had been appointed her mother’s executor and the property owner was caught in a messy family litigation. When in doubt, contact your attorney.

I hope these tips will allow this type of rental situation to be more profitable and easier to manage.