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 can inherit a:

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 spent in the property.

The landlord may agree to you paying use and occupation charges while you remain in the property. You may be able to get housing benefit or universal credit to help cover these costs.

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 it.

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

Get help if you need more information

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 tenant 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 will end 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.


Last updated 01 May 2018 | © Shelter

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