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Landlord: Tenant violated his lease by dying

Debra Tolbert at the White Center house where her brother, Dennis Hanel, had been living.   

Debra Tolbert’s brother had been battling stage four kidney failure when he died last month of a heart attack.

But a grieving Tolbert was hardly prepared for what she heard from property managers of Dennis Hanel’s White Center rental house when she tried to collect his security deposit and last month’s rent.

Her brother “violated the terms his lease” when he died, a representative of the rental and management company told her. “She said to me, ‘He’s not getting anything back,’ ” Tolbert said.

A promised explanation for why they are keeping the $1,400, which she’d hoped to use to pay for his cremation, still hasn’t materialized – two weeks after that phone call and a month after her brother’s death.

She says they’ve also not responded to her barrage of phone calls and text messages.

Anthony Narancic, owner of Real Estate Services, the property rental and management company for the property, did not return a reporter’s phone calls and text messages to him and an assistant requesting comment.

Washington CAN, a community organization that advocates for low- and middle-income people, has been trying to help Tolbert get the money back.

“For a landlord to require someone to give notice that they are going to die in order to get a deposit back is outrageous and unethical, not to mention inhumane,” said Xochitl Maykovich, an organizer at Washington CAN. “I don’t understand how someone like that can sleep at night.”  Read More