It is possible that the niece is the personal representative of his estate and if so she would have the authority to rent the home. Why don't you just ask her?
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More facts are needed to answer the question.
How much time has passed since the owner died?
Who is the niece paying rent to?
is the lease in writing?
The family needs to find out where the Last Will and Testament is and determine who has the responsibility of following the deceased's instructions. The situation can't be left like this indefinitely.
If the property is titled so that someone else now owns the property, then there is no need for probate and the other person on title can collect rent, continue renewing the lease, or terminate the lease.
I recommend that you make an appointment with a local landlord tenant attorney or real estate lawyer to determine your rights and responsibilities.
More facts are required to answer this question. But generally, when a person dies, there is a the appointment of a personal representative (in other states called an executor) this person handles the affairs of the estate (which can be seen as a basket of the deceased persons "stuff", money, cars, houses). That person is now in charge of the estate and make decisions. I would argue that the estate is now your landlord and that the lease is still binding and in effect. (I assume it is a one year lease)
Attorney answers to questions are for general purposes only and do not establish an attorney-client relationship. The hiring of an attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. Landlord/Tenant, Appellate and Criminal Defense. Robert Devin, Esq. (954) 647-5927, 200 SE 6th St., Suite 603, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 email@example.com