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 informed the housing officer and the housing benefits team too.
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 needs to 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, and the person who takes over or ‘succeeds’ to the tenancy is called a successor.
Who can succeed to 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: –
Cohabiting partner family members under the age of 18 can succeed to a tenancy. However, in these cases, a trustee would need to be agreed on who would hold the tenancy in trust for the child.
Can more than one person succeed?
Only one person can is permitted to succeed to 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 between them 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 a 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 & a possession order had been granted, which ended 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 award of housing 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 death, the Housing Officer will contact you about your application.
They will send you an application form or offer an appointment which may be at their offices or at your home, to help you go through this form.
You must include all the information that this form asks for; 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 will be able to 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 requirement, you will need to move to a more suitable property.
If you live in an adapted property and don’t require these adaptions, you will also be asked to move. The council understand that this is a difficult time for you. You may have an emotional attachment to your current home and may wish to remain in your home.
However, due to the pressure on housing across the UK, especially for large family homes. If the property does have more bedrooms than you require. You will need to move to a smaller property.
The council will do all they can 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 make sure they offer you suitable properties.
To end the tenancy on the current property, the council is required to serve a Notice to Quit. For the council to seek possession of the property, they will also have to serve a Notice of Seeking Possession. This can take a few months for them to send to you.
What about the rent?
If you stay in the property, the rent needs to be paid in full until the property 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 to pay the rent, you should contact the councils 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 a form of rent known as use and occupation charges.
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, with 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 with details of 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 at this time; 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 will have to deal with. There will be other people, agencies, and companies you need to inform. There is helpful advice on what to do after someone dies.
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