Can you inherit a housing association tenancy?

Housing association tenancies can sometimes be inherited by partners and relatives.

Succession rights when a housing association tenant dies

The right for someone to inherit a tenancy when the tenant dies is called succession.

A housing association tenancy can only be inherited once, unless the tenancy agreement allows for more than one succession. Check with the landlord.

Your right to inherit 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 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.

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 inherit the tenancy only 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 is normally 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 these tenancies vary depending on the type and length.

Periodic tenancy

A periodic assured shorthold tenancy is one where:

  • a fixed-term tenancy has expired and not been renewed
  • 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 of their death.

Other relatives can only inherit the tenancy if the tenancy agreement allows this.

Fixed-term tenancy for less than two years

Unless you are a joint tenant you have no right to inherit an assured shorthold tenancy with a fixed term of less than two years.

Fixed-term tenancy of two years or more

If the assured shorthold tenancy is granted for a fixed term of two years or more, you can inherit it 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 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

If you have been living in the home of a housing association tenant who has died, you have the right to stay in the property until the tenancy is ended properly.

The tenancy can be ended by the landlord or by the person looking after the affairs of the tenant who died.

Once the tenancy has been ended properly, you have no right to remain.

You may be able to get help from the council if you will be homeless.

Use Shelter's directory to find a face-to-face adviser in your area

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 help.


Last updated 02 May 2018 | © Shelter

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