Landlord: Quick, The 90-Year-Old Kicked The Bucket, Lock Up Her Stuff So We Can Rent Her Apartment!

A Los Angeles landlord tossed Mary Changnon’s belongings into a storage locker the day after the 90 year-old passed away. The landlord refuses to grant Changnon’s relatives access to the storage facility, and plans to auction its contents on September 20th. One neighbor says: “I’m from New York, heartless New York. You couldn’t get away with this in New York. You just couldn’t…”

Landlord Clears Out Apartment Day After Tenant Dies [KTLA via

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  1. flintstone03 says:

    My God, this is so sad. This landlord is despicable. In the words of Mean Girls, “Boo you whore!”

  2. Falconfire says:

    I dont think you could get away with this is in LA either. Unfortunately for this idiot (and thankfully for her relatives) The lease is not automatically “terminated” come the death of the leaser contrary to his belief. Only come the end of the month when the lease was up would it technically be terminated. She paid till the end of the month, thus its the end of the month its terminated. This doesn’t change if she dies.

  3. KivaWolf says:

    This is extremely disturbing. The landlord gets enough money from rent and now wants to auction off the deceased belongings for more money. Greed shall be his downfall. I send the family’s my condolences for their loss and a speedy solution in their favor in getting the items back. I seriously hope things turn around so evil people like the landlord do not win.

  4. azntg says:

    Unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable. My condolences for the family. A double whammy as they now have to grieve for the departing of a beloved family member and also fight with a jackass landlord hellbent on stealing family property.

  5. badgeman46 says:

    That woman lived there for FORTY YEARS!!! That means she practically paid for the building!!! I’ve heard of sleazy people, but someone who has mexicans waiting to haul off your stuff in a jalopy substandard to even Uhaul the day after you die takes the cake. I hope some crafty attorney can shake this mother down!

  6. SOhp101 says:

    Wow they need to get a lawyer asap. Unauthorized entering/trespassing, unlawful eviction and probably a million more laws that he’s broken. I think in LA for every law that’s broken it’s something like a $2000 fine.

  7. darkclawsofchaos says:

    Just bring in some receipt, any will do as long as its not food or something like that, that one of the items impounded was yours and that it was in her place. That way, you can look at the stuff “looking for it” and get what is yours. The receipt was to get in the storage facility. Just hope that you have some old receipt. Technical? Yes,and it might not work, but there is a very good chance you might. And if by some reason you mailed something to her in a package before, this might strengthen the proof if you have that receipt. You can say you lent something to her and expected it back but she died before she return it and the police might be able to assist you as the landlord might be charged with theft.

  8. MrBartokomous says:

    I… actually don’t think this is that crazy. Well, the first part wherein all the stuff in the apartment was thrown in storage ASAP so the apartment could be rented out to a new tenant. Denying relatives access, and threatening to auction everything off… that’s where it gets scummy.

  9. At the end of the clip, Changnon’s niece says, “It could happen to anybody.” Yes, it could. Make sure that your loved ones have an end-of-life plan that includes a Last Will and Testament and a plan for medical care decisions.

    A good guide to such things is a pamphlet called “Five Wishes,” which you can pick up by calling 1-888-5-WISHES or by visiting Aging With Dignity. My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s last year; my mother recently had a stent placed in her heart. Sometimes, you never know-to paraphrase Morrissey, it could all end tomorrow. Make the plan now so you can avoid the pain, grief, heartache, and legal battles later.

    My heart goes out to Mary Changon’s family, friends, and neighbours.

  10. bombaxstar says:

    man that’s fucked up. That landlord sucks.

  11. catskyfire says:

    Yes, landlord could clear the apartment and rent it anew. However, unless the woman was in arrears, he need not pounce so quickly. If the rent is paid up, he is out nothing. And the length of time she’s been there would, normally, earn a bit of extra consideration.

    Laws vary from state to state, but I know that in Nebraska, while a landlord can store left behind property (from an eviction or an abandonment), they cannot fully dispose of it until a year has passed. (The individuals have the right to reclaim it, along with the payment of any reasonable storage fees. (And based on what a landlord friend says, most of them don’t reclaim it because they’d also be asked for the 3 months back rent that they scampered off to avoid in the first place.))

    This landlord, though, is what is known as a ‘scumbag’ and will, I hope, get what’s coming to him.

  12. cedarpointfan says:

    Karma is a bitch, landlord.

  13. deadhouseplants says:

    Meanwhile, Randy Newman was last seen rewriting the title of his one hit song after reading this story.

  14. LAGirl says:

    damn. i can’t believe the scummy landlord didn’t at least give the family some time to come collect her belongings. she had a lifetime in that apartment, which probably included family photos and other things of sentimental value. they couldn’t wait until the niece got to town to sort it out? hope the landlord burns in hell.

  15. Trowble (XBL/PSN) says:

    I’m from “heartless New York” too and well I too think the heartless of New York would have more consideration than that.

  16. WraithSama says:

    Wow. I’ve read the Consumerist for quite a while, but this story compelled me to register just so I could add my profound disgust for the landlord. His greed sickens me.

  17. derobert says:

    The link the the original story doesn’t work, so I apologize if I’m missing something, but there must be more to this story.

    For example, could it be that the property is being held at the request of the executor/administrator of her estate? Then it’d make sense.

    The thinking could be “well, no idea who has access to that apartment. Best to move the property somewhere we can be sure it won’t vanish.”

  18. hypnotik_jello says:

    Zzz. The victim-bashers must all be asleep.

    “It’s obviously her fault for dying in the apartment. If she didn’t want this to happen she should have died off the premises”

  19. hypnotik_jello says:

    @derobert: Sure, I could see about putting the items into storage, but what about the part about auctioning off the contents of the apartment?

  20. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    I wonder if she owed the landlord money… How long should the landlord leave a unit unrented”?

  21. North of 49 says:

    scummy. typical of slum lords though.

  22. hypnotik_jello says:

    @MyCokesBiggerThanYours: Even if she owed the landlord money, I don’t think the landlord can legally seize her property (now her estate’s, and in lieu of her estate, her next of kin’s property).

  23. Kezzerxir says:

    Why did she waste 40 years of rent, she could of bought a nice house.

  24. Chongo says:

    @hypnotik_jello: Its in the blog article, however it is mentioned as an annonymous write in from a tennet. I know TV news isn’t always spot on but you would think they would mention this in their report. Something tells me that the landlord wouldn’t sell anything off… as big of an ass as he/she/it is.

  25. crankymediaguy says:

    “Why did she waste 40 years of rent, she could of bought a nice house.”

    Yes, and you could HAVE paid attention during English class.

    New Rule: Functional illiterates don’t get to express opinions on ANYTHING.

  26. EtherealStrife says:

    Uh what’s wrong with what the landlord did (aside from forgetting the work order on the first day)? It’s not heartless, it’s planning ahead. Without a will the woman’s family could be fighting over her belongings for years, so the landlord was just making sure her crap was cleared out asap so it wouldn’t be sitting there after the (paid) month is up, costing him loads of $$$. He’s running a business, not a charity or a shelter.

    “The landlord refuses to grant Changnon’s relatives access to the storage facility, and plans to auction its contents on September 20th.”

    Where are you pulling that from? I can see the refusal, since he doesn’t know how the distribution of property is supposed to go down (sidenote: if you don’t have a will, you’re basically giving your family the birdie when you die).
    I don’t see how he could be auctioning it off, and suspect that’s bs.

  27. nonzenze says:

    “Unfortunately for this idiot (and thankfully for her relatives) The lease is not automatically “terminated” come the death of the leaser contrary to his belief. Only come the end of the month when the lease was up would it technically be terminated. She paid till the end of the month, thus its the end of the month its terminated. This doesn’t change if she dies.”

    WRONG. California law specifically states that any lease for real property terminates upon the death of the tenant. See California Civil Code, section 1950. Unless the lease said otherwise, the landlord is well within his right (but certainly an asshole).

  28. nonzenze says:

    Furthermore to what Ethereal says, the landlord would be opening himself up to personal liability if he allows family members to remove property before the estate has been properly handled. For instance, if he allows her children access but it later turns out that all her property was willed to (say) her sister, he is personally liable to the sister for the value of anything they removed.

    To reiterate, I still think the guy is a jerk but he’s also got to protect himself.

  29. reesebw says:

    As long as she already paid for that months rent the items should still be able to remain in the unit until the month is over. The landlord isn’t losing any money by having the a tenant die. She’s being greedy and trying to turn a quick dollar. How is an apartment that much different than a storage facility. Whether you live or die you should be able to keep your things in your rental space for the entire rental period already paid for.

  30. sly100100 says:

    This woman has been there 40 years! And this is the kinda of shit her landlord pulls. I’ll bet she was always on time with her rent and was the perfect tenant too!
    I have had some really bad landlords and some really great ones too.
    But this is just wrong. I would think even if the woman is dead that taking her stuff regardless without written permission from the legal owner would be illegal. And if you didn’t know who the owner would be you would have to wait.

  31. Rusted says:

    Tried to do a Google news search, seems odd that this is the only source for the item.

    @EtherealStrife: Agree on the iffy nature of the auctioning part. Does not seem like a smart thing to do in a city so full of hungry lawyers.

  32. NickRB says:

    I have no problem with the landlord clearing the apartment out and putting the items in storage so soon. He has a business to run and needs to rent that apartment out asap! I think the press blew this out of proportion. Must have been a slow news day.

  33. gusgus says:

    Jesus Christ. The woman is DEAD. She doesn’t care! Pushing up daisies. It makes no difference if the stuff is moved today or 6 months from now.

  34. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @gusgus: It matters to her relations, who the landlord is shutting out of access to her belongings. Learn to read.

  35. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Here’s a link to the news that the next-of-kin is being stopped from having access to the belongings: [blogging.la]

  36. nctrnlboy says:

    Ah… its likely a rent-controlled apartment. THAT explains the rush! What is messed up is I dont see how the landlord has the right to auction off her personal items. Unless she owed back rent.

    I dont keep any valuables in my apartment, for one… I dont want them stolen during a break-in & two… I dont trust my landlord. He refused to change the locks when I moved in. I figure anything I own that I keep in the apartment will be picked thru by him if I die. There is pretty much nothing I can do to keep him from taking what he wants. My relatives are not the type to go to court over missing items from my apartment.

  37. dewrock says:

    I agree that it seems kind of heartless that the landlord is doing this a day after she died, but where are people hearing that he’s going to auction her stuff on Sept 20? From what the reporter says he told her, it was his responsibility as a landlord to secure those items. I don’t see it as him keeping her family from the items, but securing them until someone can decide who has the rights to the stuff and to where he no longer has any responsibility in the matter.

    I think some people might be jumping to conclusions here.

  38. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @dewrock: Check the link I posted above.

  39. Rusted says:

    This…..”according to a resident who wrote us who wishes to remain anonymous”…..for the source that refers to auctioning off the stuff. I just can’t believe that part of the story.

  40. consumer_999 says:

    Bad people do exist, and do try to get away with things.

    Take him to court and it’ll be fixed.

  41. Esquire99 says:

    I like how everyone on here seems to be glossing over the rational argument for moving the items into storage rather than addressing it. A number of people have suggested that the landlord was doing so in order to protect the property from “relatives” who have no legal right to it. Just because your mother/father/sibling dies, you don’t gain instant rights to their property. In this case, since she did not have a will, a court will have to decide who gets all of her belongings. The landlord absolutely did the right thing by protecting the property by moving it. Allowing the relatives to pick through it and take the valuables, property to which they may never have any right to, would be wrong and likely exposes the landlord to liability. The whole “auctioning” off the property bit was probably suggested by some angry neighbor in order to sensationalize the story and get news outlets to pick it up.

    It’s nice how most of the people on here prefer to ignore any sort of rational argument on why the events occurred (with tis or any story posted on here) and instead prefer to take the opportunity to bash “the man” and rant about how he’s always holding the little man/old woman/poor consumer down.

  42. squikysquiken says:

    The landlord can’t let others access the property unless he wants to get sued by the family. Especially if it’s not clear who gets it. He’s not a lawyer and he can’t know if the niece is 1/ really her niece 2/ next of kin. He’s within his right to clear out the property after the death. And the auction part is from a “resident who wishes to remain anonymous” which could just be a rumor designed to make the landlord look bad.

    Clearing out the day after is kind of callous. But unless the auction piece is true; I don’t see what’s wrong here.

    And the TV piece about: “They brought an inexpensive truck with day labor”. How is that relevant? Should it have been a military honor guard in uniform with a jewel encrusted gold plated SUV ?

  43. Now thats some fucked up shit… Straight to the L.A. Courthouse!

  44. consumer_999 says:

    To add to my comment above, I also wanted to say though that I tend to agree with Dewrock. The guy has the right to get his apartment prepared to be rented again. That doesn’t mean he’s planning to hijack her belongings. Putting them into storage until they can be given to rightful owners is the right thing to do.

    If he does try to do what’s being suggested, sue the mofo blind, it’ll work out fine.

  45. dewrock says:

    @speedwell: The only part of that link that has anything directly from the landlord is the same thing quoted in the video. He’s saying he has the responsibility of safeguarding the items. What happens if he lets the niece take what she wants and then days, months, years down the road someone comes with documentation saying they were supposed to have said items? He’s now liable for those items that are now God knows where. I find it hard to believe that some random anonymous tenant knows there’s going to be a public auction of the departed’s personal items. The landlord certainly didn’t tell the media that, so if he’s trying to keep it secret…how did the tenant find out?

  46. dewrock says:

    @consumer_999: Exactly, if he is indeed trying to sell off her things then he’s a huge D-bag. I just don’t see where people are getting that from the information available.

  47. clickable says:

    @North of 49:

    True, but this place doesn’t seem like a slum, and the other tenants don’t seem like the kind of people who would let a landlord walk all over them without objecting.

    Point in fact, they tried. They made the landlord produce an order and only let him load the truck when a cop ordered them to.

    But I bet the landlord had all his legal ducks lined up in a row long before moving day. Unfortunately, scumbag landlords go hand in hand with scumbag lawyers, and together they can usually find scumbag municipal officials to give them permits to do what they want.

    Condolences to Ms. Chagnon’s nieces and friends. I hope this works out for them. I’m sure the belongings have more sentimental than monetary value, and all they want are some mementos of their aunt and a piece of their family’s history.

  48. kbarrett says:

    The landlord acted correctly. Get a court order, and then move the contents into storage.

    Give the key and the storage bill to the executor, the only person who should have access to anything. If the deceased dies intestate, a local court can appoint an executor ( often a relative ).

    Crankymediaguy: I always ignore the opinions of little grammar/spelling nazis.

  49. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Over 40 years ago, my grandfather died.
    When my father & myself went to his apartment, a couple of days later, my father unlocked the door & we found people living in my grandfather’s apartment. All his stuff had been moved to one room.

    We were both amazed, but I was only about 12 at the time, I had no idea of what to expect, but it wasn’t that!

  50. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    @crankymediaguy: Wow. Don’t be so uptight.

  51. ribex says:

    @Rusted: There’s a story at [news.google.com] Would help if Consumerist spelled the subject’s name correctly: Chagnon. Not Changnon. This is a really sickening story.

  52. crankymediaguy says:

    “Crankymediaguy: I always ignore the opinions of little grammar/spelling nazis.”

    AKA those of us who paid attention in English class and don’t expect others to decipher our illiterate gibberish.

    BTW, isn’t it WAY BEYOND absurd to compare people with respect for the language to fascists who killed millions of people?

    Oh, while we’re talking here and all, um, how is it “ignoring” me to respond to what I said?

    Hey, this “shooting fish in a barrel” thing is FUN.

  53. crankymediaguy says:

    “Wow. Don’t be so uptight.”

    Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not “uptight” at all.

    With some legitimacy, people bitch about those who come to our country, legally or illegally, and don’t bother to learn the language. What excuse do those who were born and raised here have for not knowing simple English? You communicate like a dumbass, I’m going to TREAT you like a dumbass.

  54. Soldier_CLE says that Hideo Kojima has to make MGS till the day he dies! says:

    Just wondering…

    What is the name of the apartment complex and management company, so that we know NEVER to rent from these jokers?

    … That, and I say we tar and feather the landlord and make him do the chicken dance on the Santa Monica Freeway!

  55. protest says:

    i went through this situation about 5 years ago when my father passed away. don’t know how different the laws are in pennsylvania, but my father’s landlord gave me no problems with access to the apartment. after showing her proof that i was the administrator of his estate, she gave me a key, and i paid her for the week it took us to clean out the apartment. i did her the favor of getting all his stuff out and cleaning it up very quickly, and in turn she gave me (his estate) his deposite back. i can see how, if i was an asshole, or if no family showed up to claim his stuff, or if i took forever to get the stuff out, that the landlady would store and sell off his stuff. proof that people can benefit by being civil, something that asshole landlord could stand to learn.

    nebraska right? i really don’t think the demand for an apartment in nebraska is really that great that he had to clean out the place in one day.

    on the other hand, the other commentor is correct about the landlord covering his ass by not letting whoever shows up claiming to be a reletive into the apartment to take whatever they want. some families are f*cked up and steal from estates, i’ve seen it happen! another thing, maybe the landlord got screwed in the past by a similar situation. as long as he doesn’t sell off the stuff, and lets the executor of the estate (next of kin) access to the stuff (which is their right by law) after the proper forms are shown to him, then there is no problem.

  56. inno says:

    @badgeman46:
    BEGIN_SARCASM, TYPE:INDIGNANT

    damn mexicans and their stuff-hauling-away ways! couldn’t he at least use american labor??? god it makes me sick to my core!

    END_SARCASM

  57. JayXJ says:

    Wow, if this story is completely accurate, I’m disgusted. And I would not be surprised to find out that it is. I rented from a couple of landlords in my youth that would be fully capable of being this sleazy.
    If he also lives on the property I’d bet his life is about to become very interesting and unpleasent, depending on the kind of area this was in (work computer won’t play the clip).

  58. Jesse in Japan says:

    If I were a lawyer, I would get an erection just at the thought of having a chance to take that landlord to court.

  59. CoffeeAddict says:

    It is amazing what landlords think they can get away with. Once the family deals with the funeral, I think their lawyers will have something to say about the auctioning off of the grandmother’s things. I hope justice is served, if not karma will definately even things out in the end.

  60. Fairsfair says:

    I’m going to take the unpopular road here.. While I understand the emotional position, I can find no fault in wanting to re-rent the unit as quickly as possible, and clearing it out/putting the former tenants possessions in secure storage. The owner has a responsibility to follow the law, and to themselves. Is it good business? Maybe not, judging by the other tenant’s reactions. This may come back to bite them hard. IANAL, so I don’t know what the legalities are regarding auctioning before probate, and denying access to the relatives, etc.

  61. lilalila says:

    This is an incredibly disheartening story and as an apartment manager in Los Angeles–for quite some time–I know that laws WERE broken here.

    First of all, you are NEVER to enter a tenant’s apartment under these circumstances. It is called RIGHT TO ENTRY and is akin to BREAKING & ENTERING. In extreme cases, where the heirs are not known, the apartment is sealed and the next of kin is determined by the County Public Administrator. Other than this, since the rent is PAID for the month, the apartment automatically reverts to the tenant’s next of kin for the remainder of the month.

    As far as STEALING the tenants’ possessions–which is what they did–this is simply UNHEARD of. The landlord and the property manager will certainly face big fines and maybe even jail time. At worst, its grand larceny theft.