What happens to a tenancy when a tenant dies?

It may appear that the death of a tenant would end a tenancy, leaving the landlord free to regain possession and find another tenant. Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward and landlords must be careful to follow the correct procedures. In this guide we look at what happens when a tenant passes away and next steps for landlords.

The death of a tenant does not determine the end of their tenancy, the interest instead remains in their personal representatives.

  • Security of Tenure
    Assured or assured shorthold tenancies can only be determined by statute by a landlord serving a relevant notice However, if the tenant has died, they no longer occupy the property as their principle home, which is a statutory requirement of a protected tenancy. However, the security may not be lost when the tenant dies.
  • Succession, where someone else also lives at the property
    If someone resided at the property with the deceased tenant at the date of death, the tenancy may continue to be assured and, following rules of succession, the person staying at the property with the deceased tenant may now have security under the original tenancy.
  • Joint Tenants
    If there are joint tenants and one dies, and the survivor occupies the property as their only or principle home, then under the right of survivorship, the surviving tenant will continue to enjoy the security of the original tenancy and no further action is required.
  • Sole assured tenancies
    If the sole tenant dies and no one qualifies under the rights of succession the tenancy devolves under the tenant’s will or under the intestacy rules. If the tenant occupied the property as their only or principle home, a landlord can serve a section 8 notice relying on ground 7, within 12 months of the tenant’s death. If the tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy, a section 21 notice can also be served on the executor (if there is a will) or personal representative (where the tenant died intestate). Where there is a will and there are executors to administer the estate, the tenancy vests in them from the date of death. If the tenant has died intestate, the tenancy vests in the Public Trustee until personal representatives are appointed. The Public Trustee is not subject to any duty, obligation or liability, and does not gain any beneficial interest as a result. If personal representatives are appointed, the tenancy vests in them from the date of the grant of Letters of Administration.

If you require further legal advice on this topic, please call on 01803 403403 or email Fiona Hannaford. Alternatively, complete a contact form and we will call you back.


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