Landlords Drop Demands For Murdered Woman To Pay Back Rent

The landlords that sent a demand for unpaid rent and citing “insufficient notice to vacate” to the estate of a mother who was murdered in a Christmas kill-spree say they will not go after the rest of the rent after all. They say the request for payment was just the management company’s standard procedure and they didn’t know the woman was a murder-victim.

Covina landlords unaware tenants were victims of massacre [Daily News] (Thanks to Heidi!) (Photo: mainfr4me)
PREVIOUSLY: Landlord Orders Ex-Husband To Pay Murdered Wife’s Rent


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  1. startertan says:

    Is this for real? I mean as in they really didn’t know and they backed down or are they backing down b/c of the bad publicity? Seems like before this made news the ex-husband would’ve contacted them to tell the management company they were murdered before he contacted the local media.

    • fjordtjie says:

      @startertan: This happened in Madison last spring. A woman was killed (still unknown by whom) and the company was trying to get her fiancee to stay there. When it went to the news and there was public outcry and threat of people not renting from them they did back down and let the poor guy out.

      It all comes down to money, after all.

      • startertan says:

        @fjordtjie: Yeah I read about that one. They were engaged and she came home and found the intruder I believe? Sad story and they are nuts for expecting him to stay where his fiancee was murdered.

        @Xerloq: Good point. I guess it’s a little from column A and a little from column B.

    • Xerloq says:

      @startertan: Sure, he did, but this could be a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. I don’t know how many times I’ve contacted management companies only to have the message get lost internally.

      It could also be that the ex was listed as an “emergency contact” on the lease. What kind of emergency would require the landlord to contact somebody? Failure to pay rent. It might be an automated response. (everyone knows that the emergency contact, references, etc. are the first people they’ll contact if you don’t pay rent.)

      Still scummy.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @Xerloq: “but this could be a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.”

        Yeah, it could be that when they tell the computer to close out a lease on a particular apartment, it automatically generates certain paperwork and the office drone just stamps and mails it.

        Though I still think if you’d had a murder victim in your complex, you’d flag that account. Or at least put a sticky note on the computer monitor.

  2. ViperBorg says:


    Likely story.

  3. Jim Topoleski says:

    WELLL Maybe if instead of running things like business as usual, you got to know your tenants, you might have known.

    I have this same issue with my landlord. I know our repair guys and the building manager real well, I have NEVER met my landlord even though I know he visits the complex every week.

    Im not expecting dinner here, but at least SOME sense of hey nice to meet you would be nice especially when these people are paying your salary.

    And its not really a small town thing, I live in a large city and know the people I do buisness with pretty well, even the checkout women at Target even if I dont know them by name, I at least know them enough for us to share greetings.

    There really is the awful disconnect in the country.

    • outoftheblew says:

      @Jim Topoleski:
      I take issue with the whole “I pay his salary so he must cater to my desires” mentality. He obtained the financing and capital that allows you to have a place to live, so one could argue that you owe him even more than just the rent you pay.

    • econobiker says:

      @Jim Topoleski: The owner employes managers so he doesn’t have to do the work of dealing face to face with the people- the intake, exit inspections, late rents, maintenance issues, etc. He usually has things to do that are better investments of his time. The ownership of the complex I live in was sold but you can be sure I know who owns it and what his/her/their addresses are along with some of the management companies addresses. Just in case of the need for a specific email or written letter…

      That said, I will send gift cards and small inexpensive gifts to the managers/maintenance people at Christmas time. I find that this makes a big difference…

  4. IphtashuFitz says:

    More like the request for payment was the management company’s standard procedure until the publicity gets bad enough, then they backpedal and make excuses to try to make it look like they’re nice guys.

  5. balthisar says:

    Despite the fact that I backed them up for their legality reasons, it’s great to see that they have compassion and won’t pursue the owed rents. Bravo!

    You can’t legislate morality, but it goes to show that people can be human.

    • Jim Topoleski says:

      @balthisar: there are no legal reasons though. They legally CANT get rent out of a ex-husband. Your finances are severed the minute you get a divorce. (and much of can make a divorce go on forever is the barting of responsibilities involved in breaking your finances)

      Even if he was paying alimony, that responsibility is severed after death.

      The only way he could have been on the hook is if his name was still on the lease, which it was not from what I read elsewhere.

      • johnarlington says:

        @Jim Topoleski:

        1) They were going after her estate…. which they have the legal right to.

        2) “Your finances are severed the minute you get a divorce.” Unless the lease was signed prior to the divorce, which I don’t think was the case.

        3) From the article, it sounds like the surviving children have gone to live with the father. The children’s processions were still housed at the apartment which would prohibit the landlord from renting to someone else. Now that the father is the primary guardian for the children, it is his responsibility to clear the children’s possessions from the apartment. Call me a cold harded bastard, but you can’t expect the universe to come to a halt due to tragic circumstances in your life.

      • Sparerib says:

        @Jim Topoleski: “…itemized invoice to Ortiz’s family claims the dead woman’s estate owes $1,655 to the apartment complex…” This is where it becomes unclear since the woman’s estate and/or insurance would be liable for the rent and accrued fees, yet the executor of the estate is not named. And if they didn’t know she was dead, how did they know to invoice her estate? Maybe they were not informed of her divorce and he was her emergency contact? Who knows, but at least we can sweep it under the rug.

        • Michael Belisle says:

          @Sparerib, Jim Topoleski: : A comment in the other thread included a link to the actual bill, which says that they “would like to be included in the distribution of [her] estate as it would pertain to her account here”.

          They knew she was dead because Mr. Ortiz notified them of her death and moved her belongings out on Jan. 13 (hence 12 days of rent for Jan. 1-12). It was all very legal, but of course also cold and heartless.

  6. HogwartsAlum says:


    On what planet were they living? How could they NOT have known? It was national news!

    Just backing down because everyone is ragging on them.

    • t-r0y says:

      @HogwartsAlum: So, you know the names of all the victims? You would be aware that one of them was a tenant.

      I’m not trying to defend there actions (could be cold-hearted, could be crossed wires, who knows), but I think they had a legal write to bill the estate. But in the end, they did the right thing.

  7. PittDragon says:

    I can see this happening. Someone probably didn’t put two and two together until everyone started bitching.

    Or it proves my theory, humans are just evil.

  8. savdavid says:

    They don’t watch the news on TV, read the local paper or listen to local radio. I see. Great managers. They just didn’t know, poor things.

  9. tc4b says:

    I was all over these bastards yesterday, not even for charging the rent but for adding penalties to it because she didn’t give notice.

    However, if they rectified it, no matter their motivation, then I take back everything I said. Problem fixed and, in my opinion, then some (forgiving the rent remaining in the lease).

    This might be just me being crazy, but in our the-guys-with-all-the-money-making-all-the-rules society, the only dog the average citizen has in the fight is public outrage.

    • tc4b says:

      @tc4b: Don’t know exactly why that got cut off, too many hyphens I guess, but it was supposed to be “the guys with all the money making all the rules” society.

  10. Julia789 says:

    It’s possible. Management companies don’t just run one building, they are in charge of many buildings, some with hundreds of apartments at each property.

    As for recognizing the names on the news, mostly it was the name of the killer on the news, the victims names were not mentioned as prominently. They were referred to mostly as “nine family members” and had different last names.

    Some people are also mistakenly thinking the murders happened at the apartment in question. The murders happened in a private home in a different area.

    At first, this story seemed horrible. The two surviving teen girls in the apartment said management gave them notice to leave quickly. They made it seem as if the management was aware of the murders. But now, knowing the management did not know it was one of their hundreds of tenants who was in that horrible tragedy on the news, it’s not as sinister a story.

  11. nightshade74 says:

    “It was only when that contact occurred that the company learned the tenants were dead.”

    Um… Yesterday didnt the story say they sent a demand to THE ESTATE of the murder victim? Um…. // just saying

  12. mindchaotica says:

    WTF! didn’t know she was murdered? it was on the National News! My deepest condolences for the family.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I know it sounds harsh, but when people die (murder, disease. accidents, etc), there are procedures for probating a person’s estate. The demise of this woman is sad, but contracts are contracts, debts are debts. If the lease agreement spells out that the leasee is responsibile for X months or years, the landlord has the basis in law on his/her side to be made whole.

    You can be sure that her other debtors (car, mortgage, etc) will participate in probate to get paid

  14. krispykrink says:

    Didn’t know? BS! It was the most horrifying news stories of 2008 that the national media pimped like a cheap whore.

  15. kwsventures says:

    Like I wrote yesterday, go to the media, cry the blues and this landlord would back off and eat any loss.