How to Succeed to a council tenancy & Who do I tell when a tenant dies?

How can I take over a council tenancy?

You need to register the death; details of how to do this can be found on any council’s web page on how to register a death. It would help if you also informed the housing officer and the housing benefits team.

Who do I tell when a tenant dies?

The housing officer will talk to you about the options for their tenancy and help you plan the next steps. The government’s website also gives helpful information on what must be done after someone dies.

What is a council tenancy succession?

When a council tenant dies, a joint tenant, husband, wife, or civil partner may be legally entitled to the tenancy.

In some circumstances, other family members who have been residing with the tenant for a year up till the date they died may have a right to take over the tenancy.

This is commonly known as succession; the person who takes over or ‘succeeds’ to the tenancy is called a successor.

Who can succeed in a tenancy?

The deceased tenant’s husband, wife, civil partner, or joint tenant will have the right to take over the tenancy.

If there has been no previous succession, and the tenancy was created, say before April 2012, then in such cases, the following related persons will qualify: –

Adopted child.

Cohabiting partner family members under 18 can succeed in a tenancy. However, in these cases, a trustee would need to agree on who would hold the tenancy in trust for the child.

Can more than one person succeed?

Only one person can be permitted to succeed in a tenancy; if the tenancy is a joint tenancy, then the remaining joint tenant can succeed.

If more than one person wishes to apply for succession, preference will be given to the tenant’s spouse or civil partner.

If a spouse or civil partner has not applied for succession, the family members must decide who will succeed; otherwise, the council will decide.

When is succession allowed?

Succession can take place if: –

What if the successor is a spouse or civil partner and lived with the deceased tenant at the time of death?

The successor is another qualifying family member and lived at the property as their main home for 12 months before the tenant’s death (and the deceased tenant was also using the property as their only home).

When is succession not allowed?

A succession can’t take place if: –

a succession has already occurred (so the deceased tenant was a successor).
– The tenancy has previously been assigned.
– The deceased tenant had been living alone or had not used the property as their only home.
– The deceased tenant had left the property & been admitted to hospital or residential care for long-term care. –
Court proceedings had previously been commenced for possession of the property, and a possession order had been granted, ending the tenancy.
– The applicant cannot prove they are a family member or that they lived at the address for the correct period.

When is a Discretionary Award of tenancy given?

Suppose you do not meet the criteria mentioned above. In that case, you may still qualify for a discretionary housing award if you are still a qualifying relative and meet the requirements.

How do I apply for succession or a Discretionary Award of Tenancy, and what happens next?

Once you have notified the local council of your death, the Housing Officer will contact you about your application.

They will send you an application form or offer an appointment at their offices or at your home, to help you go through this form.

You must include all the information requested on this form; without this, your application will be significantly delayed and may be declined.

A credit check may be carried out at this stage, too.

If it is found that any fraudulent information has been submitted, your application is likely to be rejected.

The council will understand this is a difficult time for you following the loss of a family member. However, they must check this information carefully to make the right decision about the tenancy.

What happens if I have been approved to succeed in a tenancy?

If you have been approved, the housing officer will send you a letter to confirm this. If you are a joint tenant, spouse, or civil partner, you can remain in your home. They will update the details of your tenancy.

Will I need to move?

If you are another family member and the house is too large for your requirements, you must move to a more suitable property.

If you live in an adapted property and don’t require these adaptations, you will also be asked to move. The council understands that this is a difficult time for you. You may have an emotional attachment to your current home and wish to remain there.

However, due to the pressure on housing across the UK, especially for large family homes, if the property has more bedrooms than you require, you will need to move to a smaller property.

The council will do everything possible to ensure this process goes smoothly for you.

The council will make you two offers of alternative accommodation; you will also need to fill out one final form to ensure they offer you suitable properties.

To end the current property’s tenancy, the council must serve a Notice to Quit. For the council to seek possession of the property, they must also serve a Notice of Seeking Possession. It can take a few months for them to send it to you.

What about the rent?

If you stay in the property, you must pay the rent in full until it is handed back to the council. If no one wishes to take over, you should empty the property, fill in a vacation form, and return the keys to the council.

If you have applied to succeed and need help paying the rent, you should contact the council’s housing benefit team.

You will not be liable for any arrears of the former tenant, but if you succeed, you will be liable for paying the rent from the Monday after the tenant died.

If you are waiting to move to a new property or to move out, you may be required to pay use and occupation charges, which are a form of rent.

What if I refuse an offer of an alternative property?

Most applicants will understand that the local authority must ask them to move to more appropriate accommodation. This is due to the high demand for housing across the UK.

However, in the occasional case where offers are refused and the applicant remains in the property, the local authority will need to start court proceedings and apply to the county court for a possession order for the property.

What happens if I have not been approved?

The local authority could decline an application if you did not meet the criteria given.

Suppose you have been advised to apply for a discretionary succession. In that case, you will not be approved if you have any rent arrears or assets exceeding the limits or if you have not lived in the borough for the required period.

If the council cannot approve your application, you will be sent a letter detailing this decision. The local authority will begin proceedings to recover possession of the property, and you will need to move out as soon as possible.

They can help you seek advice about your housing situation now; an excellent first point of contact would be the citizen’s advice bureau.

What do I do when I move out?

Before you move out, you should:

Remove your furniture and personal belongings –
Get the gas and electricity meters to read –
Tell the post office to redirect your future mail –

What are other things I need to do/ other useful contacts?

Dealing with the tenancy succession is not the only thing you must deal with. You will need to inform other people, agencies, and companies. There is helpful advice on what to do after someone dies.

The British Landlords Association is a free national landlords association; join us today for free!

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This post is for general use only and is not intended to offer legal, tax, or investment advice; it may be out of date, incorrect, or maybe a guest post. You are required to seek legal advice from a solicitor before acting on anything written hereinabove.

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