Inheriting a tenancy

Inheriting a tenancy

Who can inherit a tenancy, and how you inherit a tenancy from someone after they die.

Who can inherit a tenancy

You may be able to inherit a tenancy from someone dependent on your relationship to them and when the tenancy started. This is called succession. 

Tenancies that started on or after 1 April 2012

You can only inherit a tenancy that started on or after 1 April 2012 if you are the spouse, civil partner or a long-term co-habiting partner of the previous tenant.

Tenancies that started before 1 April 2012

You can inherit a tenancy that started before 1 April 2012 if you are the spouse, civil partner or family member of the tenant.

If you are a family member, you can inherit the tenancy if:

  • the tenancy was your home when the tenant died
  • the tenant did not have a spouse or civil partner who can inherit the tenancy
  • you were living with tenant for at least 12 months before they died

Time spent living together elsewhere counts and we'll ask you to provide proof of address to cover the whole period.

The following family members can inherit a tenancy that started before 1 April 2012:

  • Husbands, wives, civil partners
  • Unmarried couples including same sex partners
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Uncles and aunts
  • Nieces and nephews
  • Step relations
  • Half relations

When you can inherit a tenancy

You’ll need to tell us if a family member has died. Succession can only happen when we’ve been told about the tenant’s death.

The tenancy will automatically pass to a husband, wife, civil partner or other family member as long as:

  • this is the first time the tenancy is being passed on
  • it was their sole or principal home when the tenant died

If the tenancy is being passed to a family member (not a husband, wife or civil partner), they must have been living at the property for at least 12 months before the tenant's death.

Death of a joint tenant

If a tenancy is held in joint names and one of the tenants dies, the tenancy will pass on to the surviving tenant

Terms and conditions of succession

The following conditions apply to any succession.

A tenancy can only be passed on once

This is usually the partner of the person who dies, but if there’s no partner then any family member who’s been living at the same home can take on the tenancy, if the tenancy started before 1 April 2012. 

It’s up to the family members to decide who this is if there’s more than one option.

If you can’t decide, we can make the decision for you. 

We’ll base our decision on:

  • how long the tenant has lived there
  • their age
  • their relationship to the deceased
  • their ability to keep a tenancy

Only wives, husbands or civil partners have the legal right to remain in the property

If it’s anybody else, including unmarried partners, then we could ask you to move. 

We could ask you to move if the home is larger than you need but we’ll consider the circumstances before we make a decision.

Only one succession is allowed by law

A tenancy can only be passed on once by law.

This is usually to the partner of the person who dies, but if there’s no partner then a family member might be able to succeed if the tenancy started before 1 April 2012.

We may offer a new tenancy if someone has:

  • been living with the tenant for at least 12 months
  • been looking after the tenant
  • responsibility for the tenants’ children and the children don’t have the right to inherit the tenancy themselves

We'll only offer a new tenancy at a property in exceptional circumstances.

Dealing with the death of a family member

Dealing with the death of a partner or family member can be very difficult but there are organisations that can help.

Find out more about bereavement support.