Dealing with Bereavement

Our clients - letting agents, property managers, local authorities and housing associations deal with a whole range of situations when managing properties and liaising with tenants and landlords. The different job roles require different skill sets - diplomacy, listening, organisational, delegation, managerial, and so it goes on. At times there are very complex situations that one has to deal with, circumstances that require a empathetic and sympathetic. When a landlord or tenant passes away, it is often very difficult to navigate the through the emotion and focus on the “practical “ aspects in hand.

Often a bereavement comes to light through a call from a next of kin or a family member; on other occasions it may be the police who notify that an incident has taken place resulting in a bereavement. It is important to ensure that an information provided is dealt with in a professional and diplomatic manner because these are very difficult times for all concerned. 

The following points may be of use when faced with such circumstances:-

  1. When liaising with family members, find out whether or not they are executors or if your agency needs to communicate directly with a solicitor. Sometimes because the circumstances are quite sensitive, we tend to overlook asking quite key questions. Take your time when dealing with these sensitive matters.

  2. Where executors are involved, they will have the power to deal with the Estate of the deceased. Be sure to obtain proof of ID. Never assume that the person you are dealing with has legal rights over a property or a deposit.

  3. Any monies on account for a landlord will continue to be paid into an existing bank account unless a solicitor or executor advises otherwise.

  4. Any rent due to be paid by a tenant will still be paid until those managing the Estate hand back vacant possession of the property. Where possible, accompany any family members to the property. A copy of the inventory may be required when dealing with the tenant’s belongings.

  5. Arrangements relating to the forwarding of post can be dealt with the- This is a free service to prevent direct mail being sent in the name of the deceased. Next of kin may find this information useful.

  6. At times, families may require a little more time because they are dealing with funeral arrangements. Allow time and be diplomatic at all times.

  7. Infrequently there will be times where the police and coroner will be involved. You will have to follow strict protocol especially where a property is considered a crime scene.

Dealing with practical matters at a time when family members are dealing with grief can be very challenging. Providing practical guidance and support will be extremely well received.