Renting a unit to a tenant comes with many risks, one being the possibility of dealing with a crime scene. Whether a tenant dies unexpectedly, or a crime has occurred that leaves a unit sealed, you as the landlord will have some repercussions to deal with. And as of lately with violent crime rates surging in many places across the US, it’s something every landlord needs to know about.
Unsealing a Sealed Unit
Once a body has been found or a crime has been committed, the police typically seal the unit while they investigate. Other than relatives coming to gather belongings, no one is allowed in the unit during this time. This includes the landlord. While the unit is sealed, no rent will be paid and another tenant can not be sought out. This can put you out of a great deal of money. It can take months for an apartment to become unsealed again. It might also take some pestering at the police department before they open up the unit for you.
The Real Property Disclosure form must be signed by sellers looking to get rid of their properties. If a tenant concocted crystal meth in your unit, in many states you must disclose this to any potential buyers. Since the chemicals from methamphetamine are extremely toxic to the environment, and to people’s overall health, it will make the property difficult to sell to someone else. It may mean you’re stuck with the unit forever.
Breaking a Lease
When a fire occurs or an investigation is underway, a tenant may have the right to break their lease in many areas. For instance, in Chicago they can take up to two weeks from the time they’re sealed out of the property to decide if they want to keep the lease or not.
Even if only one room is sealed off, perhaps because of a fire that broke out, the tenant may be eligible to have their rent lowered. The current rent amount they pay includes that room. With less space available to them, they often have the right to have their rent lowered so that one room is no longer included in the price.
Brooks Remediation crime scene cleaners says hazardous waste, spilled chemicals, decomposing bodies and toxic drug compounds are not cleaned up by first responders. It will all require a hazmat cleanup, or at least a clean-up from a professional company. This can be expensive and is often the responsibility of the landlord … but it’s a must. Forms will also need to be completed to prove the cleanup was completed before the place can be rented to anyone new.
While not every death requires a cleanup of this nature, family members who come in to collect belongings could sue if they become exposed to any harmful substances. You would be liable for this happening. Although the cost is high, it makes more sense to go ahead and schedule the professional clean-up, rather than hope no one is impacted down the road.
Security Deposit Escrow
A tenant may not always be responsible for a crime or disaster occurring. A natural disaster could also happen, leaving a home or building torn apart. You always need to be sure that each tenant’s security deposit is left in an escrow account, or at least kept at the bank, so everyone can be reimbursed the money they are owed when they have to leave due to an unexpected event that puts multiple people out.
Cleaning up a crime scene isn’t the only problem a landlord will have to deal with if a problem occurs. Many issues will arise that will impact you and your livelihood. It’s always best to keep these things in mind and know the specific laws for your area so you can be as prepared as possible when something with your tenants or your property goes wrong.