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What happens to a tenancy when the tenant dies?

Find out what happens when a tenant dies if they lived in a council or housing association home.

Check if you can inherit the tenancy

You may be able to take over a council or housing association tenancy if you were living with the tenant who died.

Check if you have a right to inherit a council tenancy or inherit a housing association tenancy.

If you are a joint tenant the tenancy continues, but in your name only.

Contact the council or housing association to inform them of the tenant's death.

Find out more from Gov.uk about what to do after someone dies.

If you don't inherit the tenancy

If you have been living in the home of a council or housing association tenant who has died and no one inherits the tenancy, 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.

Rent will still be payable but this is not your responsibility. The landlord must claim the rent from the estate of the tenant who died.

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

If you stay, you will be a trespasser. The landlord can get a court order to evict you and to claim money from you for the time you've stayed in the property as a trespasser.

The landlord may agree to you paying use and occupation charges while you remain in the property. You can apply for housing benefit to help cover these costs.

The council should give you advice about your options and may have to provide you with somewhere to live.

Find out about help from the council if you are or will be homeless

How the tenancy can be ended

A tenancy does not automatically end when a tenant dies and no one has inherited the tenancy.

The landlord or the person looking after the affairs of the tenant who died can end the tenancy.

Get advice if you need more information.

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

By the landlord

A landlord must serve a minimum of four weeks' notice on those looking after the deceased tenant's affairs or on the Public Trustee.

By the person looking after the affairs of the person who died

If you are looking after the affairs of the tenant who died you must:

  • serve a minimum of four weeks' notice on the landlord, or
  • agree a 'surrender' of the tenancy with the landlord

An agreed surrender ends the tenancy straightaway.

The landlord might not accept a surrender if you are still living in the property.

If you want to leave, check if the tenancy can be terminated by mutual consent between the landlord and those looking after the affairs of the tenant who died.

Get advice about inheriting a tenancy

You may be entitled to legal aid if you are at risk of losing your home. Contact Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4345.

Our helpline can advise you about inheriting a tenancy.

Call Shelter's free advice helpline on 0808 800 4444


Last updated 01 Nov 2016 | © Shelter

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