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My landlord died 3 years ago and his son now appears to claim the property. What can I do as a tenant?

San Francisco, CA |

We have been unable to contact our landlord for the past 3 years. We did not know of his passing. All of his lines of contact were disconnected. We have lived in the property for over 20 years and no repairs have been made by the landlord. We foot the bill on many occasions to make necessary repairs to the property. After 3+ years, the landlord's son contacts us regarding the property. Now that the landlord's son steps forward to claim the property, is there any legal action I can take to reclaim my previous expenditures on the property and also claim any suits against the landlord/son? The property has probably been under living code for many years. I have tried to make all the necessary repairs as I can. However, there are only so many things I can not do without my landlord's consent.

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Attorney answers 2


Review the attached link and contact a housing law attorney in your community. You should also use the county assessor's office to identify the current state of ownership of the property. You may also need to check to see if the property was part of a probate action.

This is not a substitute for a consultation with a housing law attorney in your community.


Your lease agreement may provide you with some insight about getting reimbursement for repair work. There is also a "repair and deduct" remedy, where a tenant can possibly withhold rent to spend the money to repair parts of the unit. However, there are several legal requirements to this. Here is a good resource as indicated above:

No attorney-client relationship is created as a result of this answer. This is not to be used as legal advice.

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