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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Dealing with the deceased's rented home

What to do when a tenant dies depends on whether their home belongs to the council or a private landlord. It also depends on whether or not the deceased was sharing the rented home with others.

If the property is privately rented

If the deceased was living in a home owned by a private landlord, the contract between the deceased and the landlord will detail what will happen if the tenant dies. Not all contracts are the same but usually a notice period to end the contract must be given to the landlord.

What happens to a council tenancy when someone dies?

In certain situations the tenancy may be passed on to another individual, depending on the type of tenancy and the specific situation. If you are in doubt about what type of tenancy the deceased had or have questions about the tenancy, contact the local housing authority.

If you are family member

If you are the spouse, partner, civil partner or other family member of the person who has died, and have been living in the home continuously for at least 12 months, you have the right to take over the tenancy. However, this can only happen once, so it won't automatically be possible if the deceased had taken over the tenancy from another family member who died. In these cases, speak to the council about a new tenancy.

If you had a joint tenancy with the person who has died

If you're a joint tenant, you have the right to take over the tenancy and stay in your home. The surviving joint tenant is responsible for any rent arrears on the property.

You lived with the deceased but weren't a joint tenant or family member

If you’re not a joint tenant or a family member who has lived with the deceased for at least 12 months, you may still be able to take over the tenancy. Ask the council’s housing department about this.

Council housing adapted for a disabled person

If the deceased was disabled but the surviving tenant is not, the council may suggest the surviving tenant moves to a more suitable home. The adapted home would then be available for another disabled person.

'Right to buy' applications

Contact the council's right to buy department as soon as possible if the deceased was making a right to buy application. They will tell you what will happen with the application and, if you are taking over the tenancy, what your situation will be regarding the right to buy scheme.

Surviving council tenants who want to move out

If you want to move out from the property you shared with the deceased, speak to the council's housing department. They may be able to arrange a transfer or advise on other options.

Moving out of a council property

You'll need to clear the home of all the deceased's property and hand in the keys at the end of the notice period. However, if you need longer than four weeks, the council's housing department is likely to be sympathetic.

The housing department will know if any unwanted furniture can be passed on to other people or organisations.

You should also:

  • redirect the post
  • read the gas and electricity meters
  • tell the gas, electricity and water companies and arrange to pay the final bills
  • turn off the water at the stopcock
  • secure the property
  • tell the council's council tax department
  • inform the council if the deceased received housing or council tax benefit

If the deceased was living alone in a council house

You should let the local council's housing department know as soon as possible that the person has died. They will give you a form to fill in to confirm that the tenancy is ending and advise on what needs to be done to finalise any outstanding issues.

There will be a four-week notice period to end the tenancy running from the Monday after the date of death. Rent has to be paid for this period. Rent and any arrears owing will be paid out of the deceased's estate. If the deceased didn't leave a will, let the housing department know and they will advise you on what to do.

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