This page is targeted at housing professionals. Our main site is at www.shelter.org.uk

Common law rules on succession

This content applies to England

There are common law rules that govern succession to all tenancies.

The death of a tenant does not end a fixed-term or periodic tenancy (the tenancy that comes into being at the end of a fixed term). The tenancy counts as property, and automatically passes (vests) on death to the tenant's personal representatives. This is the common law position and it applies to all tenancies - not licences; see the page on Licensees for details.

Some types of tenancy (eg secure, regulated, and assured tenancies) have special statutory provisions governing what happens on death. These are considered in detail in the pages on different types of tenancy. For the types of tenancy that do not have any additional statutory provision (eg occupiers with basic protection and excluded occupiers), the common law position alone applies.

The deceased tenant's estate is liable for the rent until the tenancy is formally ended or passed on to the beneficiary of the estate. This means that the personal representatives have to pay rent out of any money, or the value of any property, left by the tenant. The tenancy continues until it is ended in the normal manner. If the landlord wishes to regain possession of the property, s/he must end the tenancy by giving the correct notice before proceedings for possession can be issued. If the tenant's personal representative wants to end the tenancy, s/he must give the notice required by the tenancy agreement. In practice, where no one wants to remain in occupation, the tenancy is often terminated by mutual consent. See the relevant pages in the Security of tenure section for information about bringing different types of tenancy to an end.

Back to top