Most private tenancies have very limited security. This includes assured shorthold tenancies, which is the type of tenancy most private tenants have.
Private landlords don’t always need a reason to evict their tenants – they may just have to follow the correct procedure. This means that for many private tenants, succession rights are not enforceable in reality. Negotiating with the landlord to get a new tenancy may provide more security than trying to take over the tenancy by succession.
There are exceptions. Get advice if the tenant who died had either of the following types of tenancy:
A spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner of a private assured periodic tenant can succeed to the tenancy if it was their only or main home and there had been no previous succession.
If no one is entitled to succeed, or the tenancy is for a fixed term (eg one year), the tenancy can be passed on under a will or the rules of intestacy.
A spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner of a regulated tenant can succeed to the tenancy if s/he lived in the property at the time of the tenant’s death.
Another member of the tenant’s family also has the right to succeed if they lived in the property with the tenant for at least two years before their death and there is no spouse, civil partner or partner who is entitled to succeed.
If the successor is the spouse or partner, and there has not been a previous succession, the tenancy remains a regulated tenancy. If it passes to another member of the tenant’s family, or is a second succession, it becomes assured. Regulated tenancies can only be passed on twice in very limited circumstances.