By Sanette Viljoen
Facts: Susan has been living in an old-age home for the past five years. On 5 January she was admitted to hospital. On 29 January Susan died in hospital. The home now demands rental for January and also for February because the lease between Susan and the home stipulates that Susan must give one month’s notice before she terminates the contract. According to the home February would therefore have been Susan’s notice month. What happens when a lessee dies in an old-age home without giving a month’s notice?
Answer: The lessor, in this case the old-age home, does have a claim or one month’s rental against the deceased estate.
As in all other cases, the estate takes the place of the deceased and the estate is therefore bound by the contracts entered into by the deceased before her death. Should the deceased have had a contract in terms of which one month’s notice had to be given, or even a long-term contract running from month to month, the lessee must give one calendar month’s notice. The lessor is therefore within its rights to demand rental for the notice month.
The executor of the deceased estate will then handle this claim, which is brought against the estate. The family of the deceased do not have to pay this money on behalf of the deceased, it will be claimed from the estate.
Each contract has different terms regarding the period of notice, also in the case of death. Therefore, make sure of the terms of the lease before you sign it. The ideal would be that the lease provides that no notice period is necessary in the event of death.