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Dealing with a tenancy when someone dies

Coping with the death of a friend or relative is never easy, and trying to deal with their affairs can be complicated and upsetting.

The following guidance should help you through this difficult time by explaining the steps you need to take to deal with their tenancy when a relative or friend dies.

You'll need to let us know as soon as possible if you're: 

  • living with a tenant who has died
  • dealing with a tenant's home, belongings and money, known as their estate

Your options

Your options are to end the tenancy or to check if you are eligible to take over the tenancy.

Ending the tenancy

If you or your family do not wish to take over the tenancy, this information will guide you through the process of ending the tenancy and handing the home back over to SLH. 

Learn more about ending the tenancy

Get in touch with us to let us know that you would like to end their tenancy. We will need four weeks’ notice, however, in some cases, it may be possible to end it sooner. Once you get in touch, an SLH Neighbourhood Officer will arrange to visit you in your home to help you with your options and next steps.

If you’re a joint tenant and you do not wish to continue living in the home, then you can request for the tenancy to end.

If it was a sole tenancy - i.e. the tenancy was just under the name of the tenant who died, then you will need to be the executor of the will or the administrator of the estate to end the tenancy. This person is called the ‘Personal Representative’. We understand that every circumstance may be different, so we will talk through this with you when we visit you in your home.

Steps to take

  • We will need a copy of their death certificate – you can pass this to us when we visit you in your home or you can send an electronic version to us at info@southliverpoolhomes.co.uk
  • You will need to clear out the home of personal belongings and furniture within the four-week notice period.
  • Hand the keys over to SLH once you have cleared out the home.

Rent will continue to be charged during the four-week notice period and until the keys are handed over. If the tenant was receiving Housing Benefit, this will automatically be cancelled on the Sunday following their death. The executor, administrator or family members who are not joint tenants are not responsible for paying the rent or any rent arrears of the deceased tenant, it will be paid from the tenant’s estate.

Taking over the tenancy

The process for taking over the tenancy is different, depending on whether you're an existing joint tenant, or if you're a family member who wishes to continue to live the home. 

Learn more about taking over the tenancy

Joint tenant

If you have a joint tenancy and the joint tenant has passed away, then the tenancy will automatically transfer into your sole name. You would be responsible for the tenancy, including rent or any arrears on the home.

Living at the home, but not a joint tenant

If you are living at the home at the time of the tenant's death, then you may be eligible to take over the tenancy either through ‘succession’ or our ‘left in occupation’ process. We will investigate if this is possible and will speak to you about your options when you get in touch.

We will need to serve a formal notice to the person who is living in the home, this is called a ‘notice to quit.’ Please do not be concerned about the notice, it is a formality to legally bring the tenancy to an end. It does not mean that you will automatically have to leave the home.

Use and occupation charge

If you are living in the home at the time of the tenant’s death, then you will become liable for ‘use and occupation charges’ until the succession/left in occupation investigation is completed. This will be the same cost as the usual weekly rent. If you believe you are entitled to claim benefits for housing costs, then it is important that you make a claim to prevent the account from going into arrears. We have a Benefits Advice Team who can offer you advice and guidance.

Succession

Succession means that you have the right to take on the tenancy after a sole tenant dies. The right of succession will largely depend on the type of tenancy agreement the deceased tenant has.

It’s important to check the exact agreement but in the main, the following rules apply:

Protected Assured/Secure Tenancies

  • Spouse/partner who is living at the home as their only home at the time of death can succeed the tenancy
  • Family member living at the home (parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, sibling, aunt or uncle, nephew or niece) as their only home for 12 months prior to the death of the tenant may be able to succeed the tenancy.

Succession can only occur once. So, if this has taken place before, you would need to apply for the home through our ‘left in occupation’ procedure. 

Assured Tenancies

  • Spouse/partner living at the home as their only home at the time of death may be able to succeed the tenancy.

Left in Occupation

If you are currently living in the home, but don’t qualify for succession then you may be able to take on the tenancy through our ‘left in occupation ‘procedure. We will talk this through with you once you get in touch.

What happens next if I want to take on the tenancy?

Contact us as soon as you can, and we will arrange a home visit within one working day.

You will be asked to provide the following information:

  • A copy of the death certificate
  • Proof of identification (for all occupants) and immigration status if applicable (passport etc)
  • Proof of residence for the past 12 months or at the time of the tenant's death. This could be official letters such as from the NHS, Department for Work for Pensions (DWP), utility bills, etc.
  • Proof of income (wage slips, DWP award letters, universal credit screenshots)

We will also need to complete an inspection of the home. We understand that this can be a very difficult time so please let us know when this is convenient within the four-week notice period. The inspection only takes a few minutes and allows us to confirm occupancy, check the condition of the home, and note any repairs that are needed.

How long will the process take?

We aim to complete any succession or left in occupation investigation as quickly as possible, please help us by providing any documents we request as quickly as you can. The process involves deciding if you have the right to take over the tenancy and if the home is suitable for your needs.

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