When a tenant dies

Content owner : housing@knh.org.uk Last updated : 05/03/11

If the tenant lived alone

Who should I notify?

The housing office will need to know about the tenant's death as soon as possible.

Housing staff will help you sort things out and will ask you to fill in a form to officially end the tenancy. They will want details of the next of kin, the address of the person dealing with the deceased tenant's affairs and the date the keys will be handed in.

What is the process for ending the tenancy?

In Kirklees all tenancies end on the Sunday following the day the keys are handed in. If you hand the keys in on a Monday by 5pm the tenancy can end the Sunday before.

What should I do before ending the tenancy?

Here is a checklist:

  • Clear out all furniture and rubbish
  • Get the electric and gas meters read
  • Turn off the water at the stopcock
  • Close the windows and lock the outside doors
  • Tell the post office where mail should be sent.

What about settling the rent?

The final week's rent will be due up to the Sunday that the tenancy ends. Any Housing Benefit the tenant was getting stops on the date of their death. Rent which is due (including arrears) will need to be paid out of any money left by the deceased tenant.

If the tenant lived with someone

Who will be able to take over the tenancy?

Some people have a legal right to take over the tenancy after a death.

These are :

  • anyone who has a joint tenancy with the deceased
  • the husband or wife of the deceased tenant
  • the deceased tenants partner or other family member, but only if that person lived with the tenant for at least 12 months before the tenants death.

There is only a legal right to pass on the tenancy once. This means that if the deceased tenant themselves took over the tenancy after a death, the legal rights above do not apply.

Even if there is no-one who has a legal right to the tenancy we may consider passing on the tenancy. Your housing office will tell you about the circumstances when this will be allowed.

What is the process for taking over the tenancy?

Contact the housing office if you want to take over the tenancy after a death. If this is agreed, you will be asked to sign a new tenancy agreement. If you want to claim housing benefit you will need to fill in a form for this too. You will then be the tenant in your own right.

What if I want to move after taking over the tenancy?

Some people may want or need to move after the death of someone they have been living with. If you take over the tenancy, housing staff can talk to you about the possibility of a transfer. They will also give you advice on other options that may be available.

What should I do with unwanted furniture?

If there are useable household items to be disposed of, talk to staff at the housing office. They may be able to tell you about furniture aid schemes who will be willing to collect items free of charge.

What happens if the deceased tenant has put in to a "Right to Buy" application?

If the tenant had applied to buy their home you will need to tell the Right to Buy team about their death. They will tell you what will happen to the right to buy in view of the death.

My question hasn't been answered here. What should I do?

Contact the neighbourhood housing office and they will advise you.