You may have the right to inherit a housing association tenancy if you are living there when the tenant dies. Find out about succession rights for partners and relatives of housing association tenants.
Succession rights when a housing association tenant dies
The right for someone to inherit a tenancy when the tenant dies is known as succession.
A housing association tenancy can usually only be inherited once, unless the tenancy agreement allows for more than one succession. Check with the landlord.
Your right to inherit or succeed to a housing association tenancy depends on the type of tenancy and your relationship with the person who died. Most housing association tenants have an assured tenancy.
Ask at your housing office if you don't know what type of tenancy it is.
Before you can inherit a tenancy, the housing association may ask you to provide evidence of:
- who you are
- your relationship with the tenant
- how long you had been living with them
The tenancy you inherit will be the same type of tenancy as that of the tenant who died. You will pay the same rent and have the same rights as they did.
Joint housing association tenants
You automatically become the sole tenant if you have a joint housing association tenancy and the other joint tenant dies.
Your right to succeed takes priority over anyone else's claim to inherit the tenancy.
This applies whatever type of housing association tenancy you have.
Succession rights of married and unmarried partners
You can inherit an assured tenancy if the tenant who died was your husband, wife, civil partner or cohabitee, as long as it was your home when they died.
Succession rights of relatives of an assured tenant
Family members of an assured tenant can only inherit the tenancy if the tenancy agreement says this can happen.
Many housing association assured tenancy agreements allow a relative to succeed when the tenant had no spouse, civil partner or cohabitee living with them. It will normally be a condition that the relative was living with the tenant for at least 12 months before they died.
Relatives who may be able to inherit the tenancy are the tenant's:
- parent or grandparent
- child or grandchild
- brother or sister
- uncle, aunt, nephew or niece
Step-relations, half-relations and in-laws are usually included, but foster children aren't.
Check the tenancy agreement to be sure you can inherit the tenancy.
Succession rights for an assured shorthold tenancy
Some housing association tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy. The rules about who can inherit the tenancy vary depending on the type and length of the tenancy.
A periodic assured shorthold tenancy is one where a fixed-term tenancy has expired and not been renewed or the tenancy agreement was never for a fixed period.
You can inherit the tenancy if you were the husband, wife, civil partner or cohabitee of the person who died, as long as it was your home at the time they died.
Other relatives can only inherit the tenancy if the tenancy agreement allows this.
Fixed-term tenancy for less than two years
You have no right to inherit a housing association tenancy if it is an assured shorthold tenancy with a fixed term of less than two years.
Even if the person who died left you their tenancy in their will, the housing association can get a court order to evict you. You can stay in your home until they do.
If the housing association agrees, you can pay use and occupation charges until you leave. You can apply for housing benefit to help with the cost.
Fixed-term tenancy of two years or more
Sometimes a fixed-term tenancy is granted for a period of two years or more. You can inherit this type of tenancy if you were the husband, wife, civil partner or cohabitee of the tenant, as long as it was your home at the time they died.
Other relatives can only inherit the tenancy if the tenancy agreement says this can happen.
Succession rights for a pre-1989 secure tenancy
If the tenant who died had been a tenant of the housing association since before 15 January 1989, they probably had a secure tenancy.
The rules for who can inherit a secure housing association tenancy are the same as the rules for a secure council tenancy.
If you don't have the right to inherit the tenancy
The housing association can ask you to leave after the tenant's death if you don't have the right to inherit the tenancy.
It must end the tenancy properly and can then ask a court to evict you if you don't leave.
You may be able to get help from the council if you will be homeless.
Ending the tenancy after someone dies
If no one inherits a tenancy, it doesn't automatically end when the tenant dies.
Get advice about inheriting a tenancy
If you are at risk of losing your home, you may be entitled to legal aid. Contact Civil Legal Advice for initial legal advice.
Contact Shelter's free advice helpline on 0808 800 4444
Last updated 01 Jan 2016 | © Shelter