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Can you inherit a private tenancy?

This page is for private tenants with an assured shorthold tenancy.

We have different advice for private tenants with a regulated tenancy.

Page contents:

What happens if a private tenant dies?

A tenancy does not end if a tenant dies.

If you're a joint tenant, the tenancy continues in your name. You do not need to do anything.

Sometimes you can inherit a private tenancy. This is called 'succession'.

You might succeed to a private tenancy if you and the tenant were:

  • married or civil partners

  • in a relationship

The tenancy must be your main home for you to succeed.

Other relatives and carers can only take over the tenancy if the tenancy agreement says so.

Usually a tenancy can only be passed on once.

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Joint tenants and succession

When a joint tenant dies, the tenancy passes to any other joint tenants. This is called 'survivorship'.

You do not need to do anything for this to happen.

If the other joint tenant lives somewhere else, the landlord can take steps to end the tenancy with a notice to quit.

But the notice to quit will not be valid if a joint tenant moves back into the property before the notice ends.


Alex and Syd are in a relationship. They are joint tenants.

They break up and Syd moves out. Alex stays with their adult children.

Sadly Alex dies. Syd succeeds to the tenancy through survivorship. But because Syd no longer lives there, the landlord sends a notice to quit.

Syd moves back in before the notice ends and gets the full tenancy rights back. The notice to quit is not valid. Syd can stay living there with the children.

Find out more about your responsibilities and rights as a joint tenant.

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Married, civil partners or living together

Your rights depend on the type of tenancy.

Check if the tenancy is:

  • fixed term – for example, 6 months or 1 year

  • periodic – for example, rolling on month by month

A fixed term tenancy becomes periodic if the tenant still lives there after the fixed term ends.

Fixed term tenancies

You cannot usually succeed to a fixed term tenancy unless the tenancy agreement says so.

But the tenancy continues until the fixed term ends.

The landlord can only end the tenancy during the fixed term if the tenancy agreement allows this.

When the fixed term ends, you might have to leave the property if you cannot agree another tenancy. The landlord can go straight to court to get a possession order.

Periodic tenancies

The tenancy will pass on to you if the property is your main home and:

  • you were married, civil partners or in a relationship

  • nobody has succeeded before

You might need to show the landlord evidence that you can succeed.

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Family members who can succeed

Only married, unmarried and civil partners have a right to succeed in law.

Other family members can only take over if the tenancy agreement says so. This does not happen often.

Family members can be the tenant's:

  • children and grandchildren

  • parents and grandparents

  • sisters and brothers

  • aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews

Step-relations, half-relations and in-laws also count.

There might be extra rules in the agreement. For example, it might say you must have lived in the property for at least 1 year before the tenant died.

Only one succession can happen for most tenancies.

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Showing you can succeed

You might need to show:

  • your relationship to the tenant

  • how long you've lived in the property

Documents to show you live there

The property usually needs to be your main home for you to succeed. You might also have to show you've lived there for a set time, such as 1 year.

You can show this with things like:

  • bank statements

  • bills in your name

  • payslips or benefits letters

  • statements from friends or neighbours

  • letters from professionals like doctors or teachers

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Eviction after you succeed

The landlord might be happy for you to take over the tenancy if they know you'll pay the rent and look after the property. But they can also end the tenancy even if you succeed.

The landlord has follow the legal process to evict you. This can take several months.

It's illegal eviction if anyone tries to force you to leave.

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Last updated: 13 March 2024

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