New Mexico Statutes Chapter 47. Property Law § 47-8-34.2. Personal property and security deposit of deceased resident;  contact person

A. As used in this section, “contact person” means the person designated by a resident in writing as the person to contact and release property to in the event of the resident's death.

B. The owner may request in writing, including by a requirement in the rental agreement, that the resident:

(1) provide the owner with the name, address and telephone number of a contact person;  and

(2) sign a statement authorizing the owner in the event of the resident's death to:

(a) grant the contact person access to the dwelling unit at a reasonable time and in the presence of the owner or the owner's agent;

(b) allow the contact person to remove the resident's property from the dwelling unit;  and

(c) refund the resident's security deposit, less lawful deductions, to the contact person.

C. A resident may, without request from the owner, provide the owner with the name, address and telephone number of a contact person.

D. Except as provided in Subsection E of this section, in the event of the death of a resident who is the sole occupant of a rental dwelling, the owner:

(1) shall turn over possession of property in the dwelling unit to the contact person or to any other person lawfully entitled to the property if the request is made prior to the property being discarded pursuant to Paragraph (5) of this subsection;

(2) shall refund the resident's security deposit, less lawful deductions, including the cost of removing and storing the property, to the contact person or to any other person lawfully entitled to the refund;

(3) may remove and store all property found in the dwelling unit;

(4) may require any person who removes property from the resident's dwelling unit to sign an inventory of the property being removed;  and

(5) may discard property removed by the owner from the resident's dwelling unit if:

(a) the owner has mailed a written request by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the contact person, requesting that the property be removed;

(b) the contact person failed to remove the property within thirty days after the request is mailed;  and

(c) the owner, prior to the date of discarding the property, has not been contacted by anyone claiming the property.

E. An owner and a resident may agree to a procedure different than the procedure in this section for removing, storing or disposing of property in the dwelling unit of a deceased resident in a written rental agreement or other agreement.

F. If, after a written request by an owner, a resident does not provide the owner with the name, address and telephone number of a contact person, the owner shall have no responsibility after the resident's death for removal, storage, disappearance, damage or disposition of property in the resident's dwelling.

G. An owner who violates Subsection D of this section shall be liable to the estate of the deceased resident for actual damages.


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