A new state law has created a much-needed shift in the state’s landlord/tenant law for residential leases that real estate professionals need to be familiar with.

Act 116 of 2016, commonly referred to as the “Tenant Death Law,” allows a personal representative to terminate a residential lease between a tenant who has died during the lease term and that person’s former landlord. This amendment went into effect January 1, and refines the uncertainty after the death of a renter, giving important rights to the deceased’s personal representative.

The new law gives the deceased renter’s personal representative the right to terminate the lease on behalf of the tenant without penalty. This right to terminate requires a two-week notice period after which the representative can end the residential lease following certain events such as the removal of the tenant’s personal property from the rented unit. This new law applies only to single-tenant residential leases.

Lawmakers believe this solution protects families of the deceased from extreme landlord billing practices and provides protections for landlords who are left with abandoned personal property.

One important note: The tenant’s estate remains on the hook for rent and any other debt accrued before the lease is terminated. The estate also remains liable for any damage caused to the rental property and any expenses the landlord incurred as a direct result of the tenant’s death. However, the estate will not be liable for any damages or penalties stemming from a breach for terminating the lease during the lease term – as long as the personal representative follows the two-week notice rule.

It remains imperative that all residential landlords stay up to date on the important shifts in landlord/tenant law.