The unrepentant landlord Antony Lee has told the Herald Sun he had no problems taking the case to a tribunal, saying: "A tenant has died. Is that my problem?"
In a case that has sparked calls for a review of the state's tenancy laws, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal this week upheld Mr Lee's claim for almost one month's rent, to be paid from the estate of Michael James Ward, 64.
Ms Theresa Duggan, said she had spent days and hundreds of dollars cleaning the Bennett Court home in Traralgon after her father's death there last December.
Despite the clean-up, the landlord demanded compensation for rental loss.
"The law told him he could, but he had no reason to -- everything was clean. It was just heartless," Ms Duggan said.
"I was so angry. It's such a miserable thing to do."
Mr Ward died from a heart attack on December 6.
He had another eight months to run on his 12-month lease.
The law says that when a tenant dies, the tenant's representative must give 28 days' notice that the lease will be broken to terminate the lease.
If, after advertising, the landlord cannot find a new tenant during that period, the landlord can make a claim against the dead tenant's estate for lost rent.
It means the law holds grieving relatives liable for a landlord's lost rent.
The revelation came as a cruel shock to Ms Duggan, who had to take out a $6000 loan to pay for her father's funeral.
"I just don't think it's fair," she said. "I would like to warn other lessees that if you are going to die suddenly, make sure you have contacted the landlord in writing 28 days before you depart so that your family doesn't have to go through the extra unnecessary trauma."
Tenants Union of Victoria tenant advocate Bill Darling said the 28-day period should be revised because of the accommodation crisis.
"In the current rental market, with the amazing shortage of affordable rental properties, we would suggest something more akin to seven to 14 days' notice would be appropriate because, depending on the location and size of the premises, there should be no problem renting it."
Mr Lee said he took the case to the tribunal on advice from his real estate agent.
"I've been advised by my agent to get it back," he said.
He considered abandoning his claim out of compassion, but decided to proceed.
"I've thought about that," he said. "But would you?"
Mr Lee, who owns two homes in Traralgon, said he was still paying off the mortgages on his properties.
He said he had advertised for new tenants in the Bennett Court home, but had had no takers.
He said it remained vacant, but was no longer available for rent. Inquires with his real estate agent confirmed it was no longer on their rental list.
hey its not his fault. she shouldnt have signed the lease if there was a chance she would die. is this guy a complete asshole or what. look at the picture....he even looks like a douche......