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Succession rights of joint occupants

This content applies to England

Remaining tenants succeed to joint tenancies under the right of survivorship, while the rules for the joint licences depend on the terms of the licence.

Succession of joint tenancies

On the death of a joint tenant, the tenancy continues in the name the remaining tenant(s) under the right of survivorship, regardless of the type of tenancy.[1] There is an exception for statutory tenancies under the Rent Act 1977, where if the surviving tenant does not reside in the premises the tenancy will cease to exist on the death of the other joint tenant. For more information on Rent Act tenancies see What is a regulated tenancy.

Where it is a condition of a tenancy that the tenant must occupy the property as their 'only or principal home', ie with a secure or assured tenancy, and the surviving tenant (or one of the surviving joint tenants) does not occupy the property as their only or principal home at the time of the other joint tenant’s death,they do not meet the ‘tenant condition’ and the tenancy will cease to be secure/assured. 

The surviving joint tenant can revive their secure/assured status by meeting the ‘tenant condition’ at any time before the expiry of a notice to quit.[2]

Succession of joint licences 

In the case of joint licences, if one of the licensees dies, whether the licence continues or terminates, and whether the remaining licensee has any right to remain, will depend on the terms of the licence.

[1] Hickin v Solihull MBC [2012] UKSC 39; Cunningham-Reid v Public Trustee [1944] KB 602.

[2] Islington LBC v Boyle [2011] EWCA Civ 1450.

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