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Death of a tenant

Death of a tenant

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

This page should help you through this difficult time by explaining what you need to do when a tenant of one of our properties dies.

Who should I inform?

You should tell us about the death of a tenant as soon as possible.

You will need to provide us with the following:

  • A copy of the death certificate
  • Confirmation of the executor of the will, or letter of administration

We also recommend visiting What to do when someone dies on the .gov website.

Please contact us on 0300 555 5560 and speak with a customer service advisor.

What is a letter of administration?

A letter of administration provides evidence that you have legal responsibility to manage the estate if there is no will or executor. The Gov.uk website has guidance and advice on applying to become an administrator.

What if I have a joint tenancy with the person who has died?

If you are a joint tenant, you have the right to take over the tenancy and stay in your home. You are responsible for any overdue rent and any other money owed on the property.

Please contact us on 0300 555 5560 or speak with your Neighbourhood Officer.

What about any outstanding rent balance?

Where a tenant dies, it is still necessary to bring the tenancy to an end. To do this a copy of the death certificate and four weeks’ notice is normally required. However, in some cases it may be possible to end it sooner. This will reduce the amount of rent due to be paid from the estate.  Please let us know roughly when you intend to hand the keys in.

It is important to note that rent will continue to be payable until the keys are returned. If the tenant was receiving Housing Benefit, this will automatically end on death (some local authorities pay up to the Sunday after death).

This means that if you need to keep the keys for a while in order to clear the property, full rent will continue to be charged.  This money will be owed from the estate of the late tenant.  Please contact us to arrange for this to be cleared or let us know if there is a problem and we will try to help.

If there is an outstanding balance on the tenant’s rent account after the keys have been returned, we will seek to recover this balance from the estate. It will therefore be helpful if we are informed of who is dealing with the tenant’s affairs.

Succession/Survivorship

When a tenant dies, it may be possible for a husband, wife, civil partner, or other family member to take over the tenancy.

This is known as Succession or Survivorship. The person who takes over the tenancy is called a Successor.

Succession can only occur following the death of the tenant. If the deceased person was a joint tenant, the only person who may be able to succeed the tenancy would be the remaining joint tenant.

A succession can only happen once. This means that if the deceased person was a successor (including a previous joint tenant), there cannot be a succession by another family member.

Our policy on succession reflects the current legal position and the rights of successors as laid out in the Housing Act 1985.

To apply for Succession, you will need to complete the Succession application form and return it to your local office along with a copy of the death certificate.

Supporting documentation must also be provided to show proof of your relationship with the tenant and residence for more than 12 months, e.g. utility bills or bank statements.

Once the application has been approved, a succession will be backdated to the date immediately after the tenant’s death. We will send an acknowledgement letter to the successor to confirm the Succession application has been approved.

Please contact us on 0300 555 5560 or speak with your Neighbourhood Officer if you wish to discuss the succession of a tenancy.

What should I do before ending the tenancy?

We politely request that the property is handed back completely empty of furniture, carpets, curtains, and refuse, in a clean and tidy state.

Any items remaining in the property, or in the loft or garden, including a greenhouse or the tenant’s own shed, should be removed. If there are any articles left in the property or garden we may charge for their disposal.

See our guide on Moving Out which contains useful information on how to leave our properties.

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