What to do after a tenant dies FAQs

What is succession?
It is when a tenant dies and someone living with them takes over their tenancy. This is succession. A successor is a person who takes over or succeeds in the tenancy.  

A successor may be joint tenant, partner, spouse, or civil partnership. There are times when other family members may also have a right to take over the tenancy. But, they must have been living with the tenant for a least 12 months before the tenant died.  

Who can succeed to the tenancy?
A successor is a person who takes over or succeeds in the tenancy. The tenant’s spouse, civil partner, or partner has the legal right to take over the tenancy if they were living with the tenant when they died.  There are times when other family members may also have a right to take over the tenancy.

If there is no partner to take over the tenancy other family members may succeed. This may include parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, siblings, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, step-relations, half-relations, and adopted children. But the type of tenancy agreement and how long the tenant had it for will determine the outcome. If the property is larger than you need, we may ask you to move to a more suitable property. 

What happens if one of the joint tenants dies?
If one of the joint tenants dies, the tenancy passes to the other joint tenant. Report the death to us and apply to take over the tenancy. This will ensure we have accurate records and name on the tenancy.

Can more than one person succeed to a tenancy?
Only one person can take over a tenancy.  A remaining joint tenant can succeed. Where there is more than one person who applies, we give preference to the tenant’s spouse, partner or civil partner. 

If there is no partner the family members must agree on who will take over the tenancy. 

When is a Succession allowed?
Succession can take place if 

  • A joint tenant, spouse, partner or civil partner who is living with the tenant who died at the time of their death has the legal right to take over the tenancy.  
  • A family member has lived with the tenant at the property for a least 12 months before the tenant’s death. It must be a family member’s main home. 

When is a Succession not allowed? 
A succession cannot take place if  

  • A succession has already taken place   
  • The tenant before held a joint tenancy  
  • The tenant was living alone  
  • The person applying to take over tenancy cannot provide proof  
    • of their relationship with the tenant  
    • they have lived at the property for at least 12 months. 

What happens if I do not have the proofs required to apply for succession?
If you are unable to supply all the proof, please complete the online form. Provide the information you have available and the Housing team will contact you. We will discuss your circumstances and other proofs that may support your application. 

What happens if I can succeed in the tenancy?
If you can succeed to the tenancy a Housing Services Officer will contact you. We will arrange to sign the paperwork and update the details of the tenancy. You will receive a confirmation letter.  If you are a partner you will be able to remain in your current home. A partner is a joint tenant, spouse, or civil partner. 

Will I have to move?
We understand that this is a difficult time for you and your family. You may have an emotional attachment to the property and wish to remain there. Unfortunately in some cases, this is not possible, particularly for large family houses.   

We may ask you to move if the property 

  • has more bedrooms than you need you will need to move to a smaller property.  
  • has adaptations that you do not need  
  • is for a specific client group and you do not meet the criteria. An example the property is part of our sheltered housing scheme 

We can help you to apply for our housing waiting list. We will make you an offer of a suitable alternative property.  You can apply to your local council or choice-based letting scheme. 

What about paying the rent?
You will need to pay the rent if you are staying at the property. If you need any help paying or claiming benefits such as Housing Benefit or Universal Credit please contact us. 

What happens if I can’t succeed to the tenancy?
If you are not entitled to take over the tenancy your Housing Services Officer will discuss this with you. You will receive a letter confirming the reasons why you cannot succeed. We may allow you to stay at the property for a period whilst you look for alternative housing. You will need to make payments to live at the property during this period.  

If you are not granted permission to stay at the property, we will serve notice. You will need to leave the property at the end of the 4 weeks’ notice period. 

What to do when you move out?
When you move out you should  

  • Take all your furniture and belongings 
  • Redirect your mail 
  • Take meter reading for gas and electricity 
  • Give us your new contact details  
  • Hand in the keys to the property