Is Estate on the Hook for Rent on Decedent’s Apartment?

 In Probate
Legal obligation of decedent

Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash


I was put in touch with a friend of a friend whose mother is, unfortunately, in the final days or weeks of a terminal cancer. Her mother is renting a condo in Massachusetts. What typically happens when a renter passes away during their lease? Is the estate on the hook for the remainder of the lease period?


Yes, the estate is legally on the hook. A lease is a contract and it is binding on both parties’ estates as well as on them individually.

However, there is a legal concept known as the “duty to mitigate.” This means that if one party breaches a contract, the other must take reasonable efforts to reduce the resulting damages. In the case of a lease, this means finding a new tenant. Given that there’s a very strong rental market in Massachusetts, this shouldn’t be much of a problem. (According to this website, Cambridge and Boston rank second and third in terms of the high cost of renting relative to area salaries:

In any case, under these circumstances, most landlords are accommodating.

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