Landlords terminate lease day after Hollywood resident dies; put belongings in storage

mary_birthday.jpgTwo weeks shy of her 90th birthday, Hollywood resident Mary Changnon suffered a heart attack and died on Monday, August 13th.

The following day, building management began clearing out her apartment, even though the rent had been paid through the September, and before a relative had flown in from Massachusets to take care of the deceased’s belongings.

Mary had lived at the 7941 Selma Ave. apartments for nearly forty years, and was likely under rent control until the lease expired… which, legally, occurs upon the death of the tenant.

Property manager Tom Lamb to KTLA News, “we have an obligation as landlords to safeguard these items.” Wouldn’t changing the locks have sufficed? Is clearing out an apartment one day after a death and before trying to contact any heirs a little unusual?

Now, according to a resident who wrote us who wishes to remain anonymous, the landlord refuses to allow Mary’s relative access to the storage facility and plans to hold a public auction of the possessions on September 20th.

KTLA has a news clip online that originally aired Aug. 15th, which, unfortunately, I am unable to hotlink. To access it go to their website, click the “news” tab, and scroll down the right hand column to find the video labeled “8/15 – Landlord Clears Out Apartment Day After Tenant Dies”.

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16 Replies to “Landlords terminate lease day after Hollywood resident dies; put belongings in storage”

  1. Christ, what an asshole. He couldn’t even wait until she was cold.

    Even if he needs to get the apartment cleaned out and on the market ASAP for financial reasons, I don’t see why he won’t turn her belongings over to her relative.

    He must be loads of fun to have as a landlord.

  2. OMG as if the family doesn’t have enough to deal with. What an asshole is an understatement. Karma will rear its ugly head for being so cruel.

    I am certain there is some protocol here that one of our legal eagles reading will know what to do to help that family out. The possessions may not be much but there is always some sentimental attachment on some of the items. Certainly tossing it all into storage and selling it off is not an option when there are rightful heirs.

    Challenge is out there for a pro-bono attorney looking for some good karma points to step up and save the day.

  3. This story makes me sick to my stomach and I cant wait for justice to right this very wrong situation.

    These gross peopel are worse than slumlords!!!

    I have managed several buildings in the Weho/Hollywood/North Hollywod areas and you just dont do this. The law is VERY CLEAR when it comes to the passing of tenants and they obviously thought they were above it.

  4. Thank you Lila for stepping up and giving us a bit of info. Any specific details would be appreciated as who knows who else may run into this and be able to use it. If you have a specific code or ccp that would be helpful.

  5. David,

    Thank you for posting this article, something very similar happened after my son’s death two weeks ago.

    As my five children and I departed to the mortuary to select caskets and a plot for my son, I allowed Bryan’s ex-girlfriend to stay at my home. While we were away, she entered my bedroom and removed my son’s keys to his apartment, and then proceeded to steal what she wanted from his possessions.

    After two calls to the Glendora Police Department, Bryan’s belongings were returned, such as his clothing, shoes, jewelry, colognes, and personal papers. My son’s personal effects have no monetary value to us, they are all we have left of him to spark our memories of him.

    Folks beware when a loved one dies and don’t trust anyone.

  6. Edward, that is so sad. It’s awful that people facing such a personal crisis have to deal with creeps. Its those little pieces that trigger the happy memories, hope yours return soon.

  7. they prolly thought that nobody would care and that they could get away with things cause her family was so far away. also if it was rent control and she moved in 40 years ago, hello–they are now able to get market rates for the apt. they couldnt even wait a few weeks those greedy mofo’s.

    bet theyre not giving her family her things cause those things no longer exist. you dont need glasses to see the people behind this are slime.

  8. Rules are very simple and I cannot imagine that a professional apt mgmt company doesnt know them. Rent is paid for the month so the rental goes to the next of kin. The only time this gets a little complicated is when the person has an enormous estate to be settled (but they wouldnt be living in a little rent control apt most likely) or if they are younger and have lots of family/divorced parents, husband/wife claiming to be the heirs where this hasn’t been established etc, or if there is no next of kin in which case the County Public Administrator is called in to help. Still, you NEVER clear an apt in this fashion NO MATTER WHAT.

    Nothing here makes sense and everyone from the owner of the building, the mgr, the moving company and even the company storing the merchandise is in for a VERY big liability lawsuit because more than likely all of the things taken from the apt have disappeared, not to mention, there were a handful of laws that have been broken and there will probably be huge fines levied against them on this. This will be a mulitmillion dollar lawsuit and it really should be so that it never happens again. Think of the ramifications of this story….even if you are NOT old–if you get into an accident on the way to work, your stuff is STOLEN AND KEPT FROM YOUR FAMILY??? NO WAY!

    I really hate stories like this because it reinforces the stereotype of the horrible greedy grave-digging landlord…in this case its very true, but in most it is not….thank god!

  9. In this case, I can’t help but feel disgusted by the landlord or property manager.

    For those wanting to know more about why this is not allowed, there are several reasons, but the most universal is the common law tort of trespass to chattels, AKA trespass to personal property and not “real property” which is land.

    The standard is that the defendant, more likely than not (>50% balance of probability and not beyond a reasonable doubt) damaged, deprived the owner of use or totally dispossessed the owner of the chattel. Because this is a civil action, not a criminal one, you get a lower burden of proof. Criminal charges could also be laid for theft, etc after pursuing a civil claim.

    Conversion is a more serious and overlapping tort where the perpetrator is liable not only for damages relating to the lost use of the chattel but for appropriating it, that is doing something to it that only an owner has the right to do (sell it, dispose of it, severaly damage it).

  10. In this case, I can’t help but feel disgusted by the landlord or property manager.

    For those wanting to know more about why this is not allowed, there are several reasons, but the most universal is the common law tort of trespass to chattels, AKA trespass to personal property and not “real property” which is land.

    The standard is that the defendant, more likely than not (>50% balance of probability and not beyond a reasonable doubt) damaged, deprived the owner of use or totally dispossessed the owner of the chattel. Because this is a civil action, not a criminal one, you get a lower burden of proof. Criminal charges could also be laid for theft, etc after pursuing a civil claim.

    Conversion is a more serious and overlapping tort where the perpetrator is liable not only for damages relating to the lost use of the chattel but for appropriating it, that is doing something to it that only an owner has the right to do (sell it, dispose of it, severaly damage it).

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