What Are The Landlord's Responsibilities After An Undiscovered Death?

Friday 2nd December 2022

Joanna Grimbley-Smith

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landlord signing contract

CONTENTS

 Finding a deceased person in one of your properties is an upsetting experience, particularly if their body has already begun decomposing. This stressful time is made worse by the number of things you need to do before the property can be let again.

Here at ICE Cleaning, we offer undiscovered death cleaning services, and can make any space clean and safe. Our technicians can deliver a high-quality, discreet service, and thoroughly decontaminate the affected area. They are available nationwide, 24/7.

Keep reading to find out what happens after a tenant dies.

Report the death

First, you have to contact the police to report the death. Don’t enter the property until the emergency services have declared it safe.

You might also need to contact the next of kin to let them know the tenant has passed away. If the death is suspicious or a suicide, the police will need to investigate the premises.

When the body has been removed, secure the property. Unless another occupant is still living there, it is recommended you change the locks so people that might have keys can’t access it.

Regain legal possession of the property

Tenancy does not end when a tenant passes away. It depends on the kind of agreement in place:

  • Joint names: the living occupant acquires the tenancy
  • Within a fixed term: the remainder of the term will pass to the tenant’s personal representatives
  • Statutory tenancy or periodic assured tenancy: the tenancy passes to a spouse or member of their family. If no one is in place to take ownership of it, the agreement will form part of the person’s estate.

If you want to let the property out again, you will need to form an agreement with the personal representatives. Should they not agree to one or someone else is living there, you will need to go through the courts to obtain a possession order.

When a resident dies without a will or an executor to carry out the will’s instructions, the tenancy is transferred to a public trustee. You must give notice to them to reclaim the premises.

Clean the property so it can be rented

Once the police have concluded their investigation, you can return to the scene of the death to clean it. However, you must not attempt this yourself.

A deceased body and the surrounding area – known as a trauma scene – are very dangerous to be exposed to, let alone come in contact with.

It could also be a very damaging experience for your mental health. Undiscovered death cleaning must be dealt with properly by trauma cleaning professionals.

What is trauma cleaning?

This is the removal of dangerous substances after a traumatic incident to make the area safe again. It is required when someone has been injured or killed, and there are biohazardous materials like blood, bodily fluids, and potentially infectious materials present.

Making it clean is different to ensuring all traces of the biohazards have been removed. This process can take several hours, or in some cases days, to restore the affected area to the condition it was in as if the incident never happened. It also includes the disposal of the materials correctly.

It is typically required for crime scenes, suicides, road traffic accidents, and undiscovered deaths. ICE Cleaning’s technicians have plenty of experience providing trauma cleaning services for all of these scenarios.

What are the dangers of a trauma scene?

Firstly, there might be lots of pathogens at the scene, like fungi, bacteria, and viruses, which could cause disease. There will be biohazards present, too, including blood, depending on the cause of death. This can contain pathogens like HIV, and Hepatitis A and C.

Dangerous items like drug paraphernalia could also be present and will need to be cleared up and disposed of properly.

Given an unattended death is usually discovered after several days, decomposition will create additional hazards. After 24 hours, bodily fluids will be released, and odours will appear. Within a few days, pests like flies and maggots will be attracted to the body and could infest the property.

How professional cleaners clean up after a death

Cleaning the affected area thoroughly requires trauma cleaning training, specialist products, equipment, and personal protective gear to keep the cleaner safe. All of the biohazards will need to be handled and disposed of properly, as well.

Trauma cleaners will also already have the knowledge and tools to effectively clear away the biological matter, neutralise any lingering odours, and deal with pests.

They can provide a discreet, sensitive service to minimise the stressful situation, and will quickly make it ready for the next tenants.

Here at ICE Cleaning, our technicians are accredited by the National Association of Crime Scene Cleaners and have training in offering their services sensitively. They can be on site in an emergency in an hour.

Contact us today

Contact us today on 0208 066 0360 or at enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk to find out more about our undiscovered death cleaning service

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