Checking the name on the tenancy
If you rent your home and someone in your household dies, your right to continue living there will depend on what type of tenancy they had and whose name the agreement with the landlord was in. You may need to take action to ensure you can stay.
What should I check?
When a household member dies, you need to check:
- whether the agreement was:
- a sole tenancy (in the name of only one person),
- a joint tenancy (in the name of more than one person), or
- a number of separate agreements (where each individual person has their own separate tenancy or license, which may have different terms and conditions)
2. whose name(s) the tenancy agreement was in
3. what type of tenancy they had.
If you are not sure what type of tenancy they had, have a look here first.
What if the person who died was the sole tenant?
Where this is the case, your rights will depend on whether you have the right of succession. The law gives certain people an automatic right to succeed to the tenancy (ie. take it over in their own name).
The rules depend on:
- the type of tenancy the person had,
- how you were related to them, and
- whether you were living with them at the time of their death and, in many cases, for at least a year beforehand.
Don’t assume that having lived together for a very long time will give you the right to succeed.
Click here to find out more about who has succession rights.
What if I am the sole tenant?
If your agreement with the landlord is in your name only, the fact that someone that you allow to live with you dies does not affect your rights to stay in your home. You will have the right to stay no matter whom you are renting from or what type of tenancy you have.
If you are in this situation and your landlord tries to make changes to your agreement, get advice before you agree to anything. An adviser can check that you’re not agreeing to give up important rights.
What if it was a joint agreement?
As joint tenants, you and the person who died had exactly the same rights and were equally responsible for paying the rent and keeping to the terms of your agreement. This means that if one tenant dies, the remaining joint tenant(s) automatically take over the whole tenancy.
Bear in mind that this also means that you become responsible for paying all of the rent and other expenses, including the deceased person’s share. If you can’t afford this, get advice as soon as you can. An adviser can help you to tackle any rent arrears and may be able to help you to negotiate with the landlord – for example if you want to take on a new joint tenancy with someone else in order to make the costs more affordable again.
What if we had separate agreements?
If you have a separate tenancy from the person who has died, your rights to continue living there will not be affected. Again, don’t agree to pay anymore rent or allow any other changes to your agreement until you have checked with an adviser to make sure you’re not losing out.
What if the person who died was one of my parents?
In this situation, your rights will depend on your circumstances, including;
- whether you lived with the parent who died for at least a year before they died
- whether they had a surviving spouse, registered civil partner or cohabiting partner who is entitled to succeed and if so, whether that person agrees that you can stay
- if not, whether you are entitled to succeed to the tenancy yourself.
Don’t move out until you’re sure of your rights. If you’re not old enough to live on your own, you need to get help as soon as possible. Call Childline free on 0800 1111 to speak to a friendly person who can help you. Or you can visit their website if you don’t feel like talking. If you can’t get through the first time, don’t give up – just keep trying.
Young people can also find lots more advice about housing here.