In the event of an unattended death at your rental property,  it’s important to determine who’s responsible for the death cleanup. In this article, you will learn about who’s responsible for the death cleanup, tenant belongings, and more.

An unattended death, or an “undiscovered death,” is a term used to describe someone that dies and whose body is not found right away. Days, weeks, and sometimes months can pass before the remains are discovered, usually leading to property damage due to bodily fluids and other factors. Tenants who live alone and residents who have limited contact with family members are usually 

The  four most common types of unattended deaths are:

  • Suicides
  • Homicides
  • Accidents
  • Death by natural or medical causes

When an unattended death has been brought to your attention, there are steps you need to take in order to secure the property, schedule cleanup, and make arrangements with any of your tenant’s relatives to retrieve belongings:

1. Contact Local Law Enforcement

Once it’s been discovered that someone has died in an apartment, the first thing the landlord should do is call the police. Under no circumstances should a property owner try to figure out whether a crime was committed or not; this should be left to the authorities. In case there needs to be an investigation, nothing inside the residence should be touched and none of the tenant’s belongings should be moved. 

Because there’s no way to know how a tenant died, there may also be cause for health concerns, so it’s crucial that the property owner immediately leave the apartment and wait for the police to come.

2. Arrange for the Body to Be Removed

Once the police have given the landlord permission to remove the body, arrangements can be made to do so. Depending on how the person died, procedures for how to contact next of kin or other emergency contacts may vary. Landlords should work with police officers to determine who they are allowed to contact and when.

When a tenant first signs their lease, landlords should always have an emergency contact section where these details are provided. Once the authorities have approved the landlord to contact a specific person, they should do so and make arrangements with the appropriate relative or emergency contact to have the body removed.

3. Secure the Apartment

Because renters can have duplicate keys and may have given friends or relatives access to the apartment, it’s important to change the locks immediately. Contact a local locksmith and replace all door locks in the residence. Be sure to go around the property and check windows as well. If there is a loose latch or another defect that would prevent the window from staying closed, this needs to be fixed immediately. We also advise the landlord to bring a witness for future record keeping.

4. Hire an Unattended Death Cleaning Company

Once the body has been removed from the premises, the landlord needs to have an extensive cleaning done to the property. Depending on how long the body was decomposing before being discovered, this type of death cleanup can require hazmat personnel and advanced equipment. It’s crucial that the property owner hires a professional cleaning company that specializes in death cleanup since inexperienced cleaners are not trained in how to properly deal with the risk of bacteria, germs, bloodborne pathogens, and airborne diseases.

Be sure to choose a company with a great reputation, that has access to the appropriate cleaning supplies, EPA-rated disinfectants, and sanitizers. Because biohazard waste poses a threat to anyone near it, bodily fluids and body tissue need to be completely removed from the property. An appropriately equipped after-death cleaning company will have access to the correct tools to clean carpet, wood, window dressings, ceilings, sub-flooring, and more to ensure any harmful pathogens are completely removed.

Partner with 360 Hazardous Cleanup for Unattended Death Cleanups

Because unattended deaths can happen at any time, we recommend partnering with an unattended death cleaning company with experience and professionalism. This way, you have a reliable, professional cleaning company standing by and ready to help the next time the unexpected happens. 

At 360 Hazardous Cleanup, they are dedicated to providing safe, effective, and compassionate death cleanup services. They are available 24/7, 365 days a year, and they can be on scene within a matter of hours for an assessment. Their motto is, No Family Left Behind, and they mean it, partner with the best!