When a tenant dies in New York, landlords expose themselves to liability by granting unauthorized persons access to the apartment or by removing the deceased tenant’s property from the apartment.
Only a duly appointed executor (designated in the will), administrator (if there is no will) or Public Administrator (if there is no will and no known heirs) is permitted to enter the apartment and dispose of the decedent’s personal property.Children or other relatives of the tenant may not have authority to remove property from the apartment.
If an administrator or executor has not been appointed by the New York Surrogate’s Court and no one has taken possession of the apartment, the landlord can institute eviction proceedings three months from the date of death.The eviction notice of petition and petition must be served on:
- The surviving spouse, if any, otherwise on:
- A surviving child, if any, otherwise on:
- One of the other distributees (those who would inherit the estate if there
were no will, i.e. grandchildren, parents, nieces or nephews).
- If there are no known heirs, contact the Public Administrator for guidance.
The estate is liable for the remaining balance of the lease term.If there is an unexpired lease, the executor, administrator or legal representative of a deceased tenant my request that the landlord consent to assignment of the lease or to subletting.
The request must be accompanied by the written consent of any co-tenant or guarantor of the lease and state the name, business and home address of the proposed assignee or sublessee.Within 10 days after the mailing of the request, the landlord may ask for additional information.
Within thirty days after the mailing of the request or the additional information requested by the landlord, (whichever is later) the landlord must send notice of his election to terminate the lease or to grant or refuse his consent.
The landlord’s failure to send such a notice will be deemed to be a consent to the proposed assignment or subletting.If the landlord consents, the estate of the deceased tenant and any other tenant still remain liable for the performance of the tenant’s obligations under the lease.
If the landlord terminates the lease or unreasonably refuses to consent, the lease shall be deemed terminated and the estate of the deceased tenant and any tenants thereunder are discharged from further liability as of the last day of the calendar month during which the landlord was required to exercise his option.
If the landlord reasonably refuses to consent, the lease shall continue in full force and effect subject to the executor’s right to make further requests for consent.All requests, notices or communications must be sent by registered or certified mail.
If there are damages to the apartment and unpaid rent, the landlord should file a proof of claim in Surrogate’s Court and serve it on the executor or administrator within seven months of when he is appointed by the court.