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What to do if a private tenant dies

A tenancy does not end when someone dies.

If you lived with the tenant, you could take over the private tenancy.

Legally, you need probate before you can end the tenancy. Probate is the legal right to deal with someone's money and property. It can take a long time to get. But lots of families agree with the landlord to end the tenancy before anyone gets probate.

Tell the landlord their tenant has died 

Anyone can tell the landlord or letting agent when a tenant has died.

Get access to clear the tenant’s belongings 

Speak to the rest of the family before you remove anything. It could cause problems if you do not have the right to deal with the tenant's belongings.

Landlords are often happy to give access for someone to clear the tenant’s belongings. They usually want the property empty so they can get a new tenant.

They do not usually ask for evidence of who you are. But you can show them: 

  • documents that show you are the executor of the will 

  • letters of administration if there was no will

Get legal advice if they say you cannot access the property.

End the tenancy

Most landlords will agree to end the tenancy early if the tenant has died. When the tenancy ends there is no ongoing responsibility for rent.

Make sure you get the agreement in writing. Get a firm date from the landlord after which they no longer expect money for rent.

The landlord might only deal with the tenant's next of kin or a person with probate so they should send the letter.

Use our template to ask the landlord to end the tenancy early:

[Subject: Returning keys and ending my relative's tenancy] 

To: [landlord or agent's name and address] 

From: [your name and address] 

As you know, your tenant at [property address] has died. 

[Explain your relationship to the tenant and role in sorting things out]

I am writing to agree an end to their tenancy. 

I propose that the tenancy ends on [date] and that no further rent is due from that date.

I will make sure that my relative's belongings have been removed and will return the keys by that date.

Please let me know in writing that you accept this.

Word template: Ask for surrender after a private tenant dies (docx 16kb)

OpenDocument template: Ask for surrender after a private tenant dies (odt 9kb)

Make sure you clear the property and return the keys by the agreed date.

If you do not, the landlord could say the tenancy continues and they still need rent.

Work out who pays rent until the tenancy ends

You cannot inherit the responsibility for rent or arrears. This means you should not have to pay for rent or missed payments unless you're a joint tenant or guarantor. Check your guarantor agreement.

Any rent that is due after the tenant dies and before the tenancy ends should be paid out of any money left by the tenant.

The landlord can contact the person who is sorting out the tenant's money and property. If nobody has this responsibility, they can contact the Public Trustee.

The landlord cannot get the rent if the tenant did not leave enough money.

Work out what to do about bills and benefits

Things like utility bills need to be paid from money left by the tenant.

The person dealing with your relative's money needs to contact companies to close accounts, cancel contracts and settle bills.

Find out more about settling debts and taxes on GOV.UK.

You might need details about your relative's pension or benefits.

You can use GOV.UK's Tell Us Once service to tell government organisations about the tenant's death. You can also call on 0800 085 7308.

Sort out what should happen to the deposit

Landlords must protect deposits for assured shorthold tenancies.

The deposit should stay protected when a tenant dies. 

But the landlord can ask to use some or all of the deposit to pay for:

  • last month’s rent if you had to give notice to quit

  • the cost of clearing the property

If you and the landlord cannot agree, the deposit scheme will decide.

Emotional and practical support

You could speak to someone at one of these charities:


Get free emotional support from trained volunteers.


Monday to Friday: 9.30am to 3pm

Find out more about Cruse's helpline.

Grief Encounter

Find free support for children and young people who have experienced bereavement.

0808 802 0111

Monday to Friday: 9am to 9pm


Find out more about support from Grief Encounter.

Marie Curie

Get free practical and emotional support if you've experienced a bereavement after a terminal illness.

0800 090 2309

Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm

Saturday: 11am to 5pm

You can book a call.


Find out more about Marie Curie's support line.

Resources about bereavement

Bereavement Advice Centre

Bereavement Advice Centre has lots of practical advice on dealing with a bereavement.


Read Mind's online guide to bereavement.

Last updated: 19 March 2024

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