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Liability for rent arrears after the death of a tenant

This content applies to England

The successor's liability for the deceased tenant's rent arrears.

In principle a successor is not liable for any rent arrears owed by the original tenant at the time of her/his death. However, if there is a possession order in force at the time of the death of the original tenant, the successor will be at risk of eviction if s/he does not comply with the terms of the order (for further information see the page on Possession orders on succession).

The courts held that a statutory successor to a Rent Act tenancy was not liable for the arrears of the deceased tenant.[1] Although there is no further case law relating to successors to secure or assured tenancies, it is highly probable that this would also apply to these tenancies.

Liability for rent arrears on death of the tenant passes to her/his estate. In the event that the tenant left a will the landlord should claim from the tenant's executor. If the tenant died intestate a claim should be made to the Public Trustee until the grant of administration when the claim should be made to the administrator of the estate. If there is insufficient money in the estate of the deceased to cover the arrears, they cannot be recovered.

[1] Tickner v Clifton [1929] 1 KB 207.

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