Mumsnet has not checked the knowledge, experience or professional qualifications of anyone posting on Mumsnet Talk and cannot be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you have any serious legal concerns, we would suggest you consult a lawyer.

Clearing up property after a death - biohazard

(17 Posts)
Conecraft Sun 23-Feb-14 21:24:50

My adult DD is next of kin for her uncle, my deceased ex-husband's brother. She has been called to hospital and advised he was admitted after a seizure and is not going to survive more than a couple of days. He has been an alcoholic for years and refused all help. We went to his council flat today to check the state of it and it is unspeakable. I will not give unnecessary distressing detail but he is a hoarder and there are significant biohazards a lay person simply couldn't deal with safely. Can anybody tell me what is likely to happen after he dies and will she be liable for any costs? She is desperately worried, a single parent working full time and receiving tax credits and housing benefit. Thank you.

fuckwittery Sun 23-Feb-14 21:28:36

The costs of cleaning will form a debt of your uncle's estate and be deducted from any money he has. Your DD will not be personally liable. If he doesn't leave enough in the estate to cover the clean up costs the council will just have to pay as landlord and write it off. Make sure she doesn't pay out in the first instance, she should contact the council and explain. Does he gave a will and who is executor?
I'm sorry to hear about the very distressing situation.

fuckwittery Sun 23-Feb-14 21:29:31

In fact, should contact the council now to explain situation, housing team and possibly adult social services.

Conecraft Sun 23-Feb-14 21:36:43

I do not believe he has a will. Ironically there are goods there which are worth a considerable amount but they will not be hers to sell, not clear who the property will belong to. She doesn't want it, just to put him to rest decently. She promised her grandmother, who died in May. Then her father died in September. I just want to help her know where to turn, bless her. Thank you for replying.

Conecraft Sun 23-Feb-14 21:38:08

Cross posted, I'm slow, but that sounds like good advice.

Selks Sun 23-Feb-14 21:41:14

This is an awful lot of responsibility and upset for your DD to deal with. Is there anyone who can help her share the burden?

fuckwittery Sun 23-Feb-14 21:44:43

Is he conscious and able to make a deathbed will? It would make thimgs much easier for those left behind.
If not, estate will be administered in accordance with the laws of intestacy

www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/relationships_e/relationships_death_and_wills_e/who_can_inherit_if_there_is_no_will___the_rules_of_intestacy.htm#h_rearranging_the_way_the_estate_is_shared_out

But in any event council should take responsibility for clearing the a property in such a state and charge the estate. Funeral directors can also be paid from the estate, the bank can release funeral costs if there is money in his bank account.

fuckwittery Sun 23-Feb-14 21:46:30

Oh, has he bought his council flat? (As you mentioned inheritance of property) Assumed council was landlord. If he is the owner person administering the estate will need to take responsibility for clean up.

LisasCat Sun 23-Feb-14 21:52:33

My father, also an alcoholic, died and left his housing association flat in a similar condition. Quite aside from the blood stains on the carpet where he died and lay for 2 weeks, the entire flat was a health hazard. I cleared out as much as I could with long rubber gloves but was just overwhelmed by the smell and the risk of touching anything. I eventually left it to the HA who tried to claim cleaning costs from the estate but as his estate only just covered the funeral cost, which takes priority over all other expense claims, they got nothing. Tell your DD she shouldn't put herself at any risk to clean it. She will not be financially liable if she just walks.

Conecraft Sun 23-Feb-14 21:55:42

Her brother, my son, will help as much as he can, as will I. Unfortunately the uncle caused family problems and my son was estranged from him as he believes the stress contributed to his father's death. He will support his sister, for her sake.

He is unconscious, has liver failure and is unlikely to regain consciousness, medics are just keeping him comfortable, there will be no will. I'm sorry I wasn't clear- he is a council tenant, by property I meant electrical goods he seems to have bought compulsively, often repeating purchases.

PigletJohn Sun 23-Feb-14 22:02:38

if there is stuff in the flat that is of value, beware of letting the landlord do house clearance. You will never see it again.

Conecraft Sun 23-Feb-14 22:02:56

Thank you, and I'm sorry you had to deal with this distressing situation too. I will tell her that. I think part of the problem is more emotional than legal; she doesn't care for any of the material stuff but with the deaths of her father and grandmother so recent she is finding the idea that items of sentimental value might be lost in the squalor. I think that's inevitable.

Selks Sun 23-Feb-14 22:08:17

I would be tempted to let the council clear the flat - it sounds far too hazardous for family members to tackle. Be aware though that if the council removes anything of value they will offset that against cleaning costs and you won't receive it back.
I know someone who died at home and sadly it was a hazardous mess afterwards. The council cleared the flat but £400 cash was found in the flat which the council took towards the costs.

specialsubject Mon 24-Feb-14 12:17:40

landlords are not allowed to steal tenant property. Any more than anyone else is.

the place is a council property, he is a tenant. If he has wrecked the place, the costs of cleaning it will be deducted from his estate. That estate includes the electrical items.

no lay person should deal with bio-hazard. There are specialist firms for this, and they will deal with it safely and decently. They can be asked to look out for photos etc.

sorry for the circumstances.

Conecraft Mon 24-Feb-14 12:54:13

Thank you for your help, it's really appreciated.

Fishandjam Mon 24-Feb-14 12:59:56

I remember seeing a similar flat when on work experience with the local Environmental Health department, many years ago. They had a team clearing it. Could your DD contact your local EH team and see what they suggest?

MidniteScribbler Thu 27-Feb-14 03:46:22

If finances allow, could your daughter (or your son and yourselves) contract a private firm to clean the flat? They will be able to see what can be salvaged and your daughter can then determine if there are any sentimental items among the belongings.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now