Checklist for Managers When Resident Living Alone Dies

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February 3, 2016
Phil Querin
MHCO Legal Counsel
Querin Law

Question: Can you provide us with a “Check-List” of issues we need to be aware of when we learn that a resident living alone in the community dies. 


Answer: Under ORS 90.675(20), death of a resident living alone triggers the abandonment procotols.


  1. First you need to determine if there is a personal representative (“PR”) named in a will or appointed by a court to act for the deceased tenant.  If not, is there a person designated in writing by the tenant to be contacted in the event of their death. (Of course, the best practice is to have this information, in advance, for all residents living alone.)
  2. If you do not have any contact information, you may have to do some research, which means checking the decedent’s rental application, or checking with neighbors. My experience is that when an older person passes away, relatives and others come out of the woodwork. Eventually you will need to identify some person who is willing to assume responsibility for the decedent’s property.
  3. There is such a thing as a Small Estate Probate, and most counties have the available forms. That would be the best approach for the responsible person to go through.
  4. However, note that as a landlord/manager, your job is to get the space re-rented, either by a sale of the home to an approved resident, or removal of the home and re-siting of another.
  5. The 45-day abandonment letter must be sent by first class mail to the deceased tenant at the premises, and personally delivered or sent by first class mail to the PR or designated person, if actually known to you. (Note: The 45-day letter must refer to the personal representative or designated person, instead of the deceased tenant.)
  6. If the PR or designated person, or other person entitled to possession of the property, such as an heir, responds to you by actual notice (E.g. verbal contact, phone call, email, fax, etc.) within the 45-day period set forth in the 45-day letter, and requests to enter into a written Storage Agreement, you must do so.
  7. The written Storage Agreement should provide that the home and personal property may not be sold or disposed of for up to 90 days, or until the conclusion of any probate proceedings, whichever is later.
  8. The written Storage Agreement entitles the PR or designated person to store the personal property on the space during the term of the agreement, but does not entitle anyone to occupy the home. You should secure it, even if it means changing the current locks. You duty commences the moment you send the 45-day letter.
  9. If a written Storage Agreement is signed by yourself and the responsible party, you may not enter into another such agreement with the lienholder until the signed until the agreement with the personal representative or designated person ends.
  10. During the term of the Storage Agreement, the PR or designated person has the right to remove or sell the home and personal property (including a sale to a purchaser, or a transfer to an heir who wishes to leave it on the rented space and become a tenant – subject to the approval of background information that you have as a landlord or manager under ORS 90.680).
  11. You may condition approval for occupancy of any purchaser or heir upon payment of all unpaid storage charges and maintenance costs.
  12. If the PR or designated person violates the signed Storage Agreement, you may terminate it by giving at least 30 days written notice stating facts sufficient to notify him/her of the reason for the termination. Unless the PR or designated person corrects the violation within the 30-day period, the Storage Agreement will be terminated, and you may sell or dispose of the home and property without further notice to them.
  13. Upon the failure of a PR or designated person to enter into a written Storage Agreement, or upon termination of the Storage Agreement, you may sell or dispose of the property pursuant to the statute (ORS 90.675) without further notice to them (unless the parties otherwise agree, or the PR or designated has already sold or removed the property).     



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