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Personal Rep for Estate is out of town and has never visited the leased condo after tenant deceased. She wants personal property without paying up on the past due rent. Have made a Statement of Claim for monthly lease payments as well as death scene bio hazard clean up. The Estate provided a Release of Right of Possession but has not paid anything. Does the landlord have to give personal property to the Personal Rep of Estate without Estate paying at least the rent balance due if not both the rent plus damages.

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If the tenant were alive, you couldn't stop them from taking away their personal property, could you? No matter how overdue the rent was. Nor could you deny them access to the property, except through formal eviction.

AFAIK the estate generally has the same rights that the decedent did. So if the tenant would have had the right to remove their property, then their estate should have that same right. I'd be concerned about legal risks to you if you try to withhold it - I wouldn't want to do so without having advice from my lawyer that it was okay. (Answers on this site are not legal advice and most of the users are not even lawyers.)

The decendent's personal property should now be part of their estate, so if it has any value, the representative should have to sell it if necessary to settle their debts. Thus even if you release the property, some of its value may still come back to you. Of course, if the decedent had other debts, and their assets don't cover them all, you may not be able to recover everything you're owed - that's one of the risks you run when you decide to become a landlord. In particular, the personal representative is not obligated to pay off the overdue rent out of her own pocket.

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  • Thank you Nate, and I agree. To clarify, the Estate provided a Release 3 months ago so I could re-rent. They have not made any arrangements to pick up of dispose of the deceased belongings. There is a clause in the lease that states landlord has no obligation to hold the personal property if last tenant deceased. However I was holding it for them as a means of good faith until I was able to re-rent. Now I have the boxes in a storage unit and they are asking I pluck thru his stuff for just his valuables. I will not do that but also question if I have the obligation to give the PR anything.
    – user38443
    Jun 3 at 15:12
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"Does the landlord have to give personal property to the Personal Rep of Estate without Estate paying at least the rent balance due if not both the rent plus damages."

What you are describing, if it existed, would be a landlord's lien in the personal property located in the premises rented, in order to secure amounts owed under the lease.

Unless such a lien is created contractually by the lease and properly perfected with a filing under Article 9 of Florida's version of the Uniform Commercial Code, there is no such lien. I presume that no such contractual lien exists, because if it did, the original question would have mentioned it.

In the absence of a lien, the estate is entitled to take possession of the decedent's personal property without first paying the amounts that it owes to the landlord.

Ordinarily, the estate must wait until the deadline for submitting claims has expired for all creditors and then pay claims that are not timely rejected by the estate on the merits as invalid, in order of the statutory priority of the claims (e.g. costs of probate administration are higher priority than unpaid rent), when the time for filing claims has expired but not later than when the estate is closed in a proposed final settlement.

If there is a security deposit in connection with the lease, however, the landlord is probably entitled to deduct amounts unpaid and owed by the decedent (and the decedent's estate) from the security deposit in a manner consistent with the rules that apply generally when a deduction is made from a security deposit, as a partial satisfaction of the claim outstanding in the probate estate.

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  • Thank you for that and I do understand your point. To clarify, the Estate provided a Release 3 months ago so I could re-rent. They have not made any arrangements to pick up of dispose of the deceased belongings. There is a clause in the lease that states landlord has no obligation to hold the personal property if last tenant deceased. However they at first wanted to personally go thru everything until they realized the place was a death scene and his items has that stinch. I boxed pers prop up & left in the condo so as to seal the smell and restore the condo -my duty to secure, as landlord.
    – user38443
    Jun 3 at 15:22
  • One last point, It was a completely furnished condo - vacation style - and tenant only had clothes, briefcase, a few pics, and a laptop. I am wondering if when the Estate released the condo, it being another 3 months before it was re-rented, if that is abandonment. And for bother reasons - no duty under lease plus abandonment - I dont have a duty to turn over his personal property
    – user38443
    Jun 3 at 15:24
  • If there is that little personal property, it may be easier overall to box it up and deliver it to the executors whether or not they pick it up, even though the landlord has no legal duty to do so.
    – ohwilleke
    Jun 3 at 19:08

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