This page is targeted at housing professionals. Our main site is at

Effect of possession orders on successors

This content applies to England

The impact of possession orders on succession.

Whilst the basic principle is that a successor should not be held liable for rent arrears owed by the original tenant at the time of her/his death (see Liability for deceased's rent arrears) an existing possession order will have effect against the successor.

Suspended/postponed possession order

The Court of Appeal held that the successor will take over the tenancy subject to the conditions of any suspended possession order in force at the time of the death of the original tenant.[1] If the successor fails to comply with the terms of a suspended (or postponed) possession order in respect of payment of current rent and arrears, the landlord can take action to obtain possession by either:

  • issuing new possession proceedings against the successor tenant, or
  • applying to the court under CPR 19.5 to make the successor tenant a party to the original possession proceedings. If the court agrees, the landlord can take steps to enforce the possession order (for more information see the page the page on Possession orders).

Outright order

If the successor has succeeded to a tenancy which has an outright possession order in force, the landlord can apply to the court for a warrant of possession after the date for possession.[2] If the order was made under a discretionary ground for possession the successor can apply to the court under CPR 19 to be joined as a party to the proceedings and, if this is permitted, s/he can then apply to vary the outright possession order to one that is suspended or postponed on terms. The successor should act without delay if s/he wishes to do this.

[1] Sherrin v Brand [1956] 1 QB 403, CA.

[2] American Economic Laundry v Little [1951] 1 KB 400, CA.

Back to top