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Staying in a council home when someone dies

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Staying in a council home when someone dies

Husbands, wives and partners

Husbands, wives and registered civil partners who were living with a tenant when they died can become the tenants as long as the property is their only or main home. This is called succession.

There can only be one succession.

If you have a joint tenancy, your joint tenant will remain a tenant if you die. You can read more about joint tenancies.

A partner who is not married to the sole tenant or in a registered civil partnership must have been living with the tenant for at least a year before they died to be able to succeed to the tenancy, and the property must have been their only or main home. This differs slightly if the tenancy to be succeeded to started after 1 April 2012. 

Depending on the relationship to the deceased tenant, we may ask the new tenant to move to a smaller property if they have more bedrooms than they need. This is also the case if the property has been adapted for someone with special needs or a disability where the adaptations are no longer needed. We will discuss this with the succeeding tenant when they inherit the tenancy.

Note: Successors usually need to supply documents with the form to prove they live at the address. This could include bank statements, credit card bills, utility bills or other official letters or documents.

You can read more about successions in the leaflet: Can I become the tenant of my home? (PDF)

You can read our tenure policy here (PDF)

Other family members

For tenancies that started before 1 April 2012 the following family members may be able to succeed to a tenancy if they were living with a tenant for a year up to their death, the property is their only or main home and the tenant was not a successor or a former joint tenant who became a sole tenant after their joint tenant died:

  • parents
  • grandparents
  • children
  • grandchildren
  • brothers and sisters
  • uncles and aunts
  • nephews and nieces

This includes relationships by marriage e.g. stepchildren.

A child can succeed to a tenancy.

For tenancies that started after 1 April 2012 these family members may be able to succeed as discretionary successors under our tenure policy if they fulfil the same conditions.

Again, if the property is too big for the needs of the household or has been adapted, we can require the successor and any other family members to move to a smaller property. 

There is more information about people who live with council tenants in chapter 13 of our Tenants Guide (PDF): When a tenant dies or moves out.

We may also consider granting a new tenancy to a tenant’s carer or someone who has lived with a tenant for longer than five years if a tenant dies.

Paying when someone dies

When a sole tenant dies, any housing benefit ends and the rent charged would be charged to the estate of the person who has died until their tenancy ends or we get the keys back if that happens sooner.

However, if you are continuing to live in the property after a sole tenant dies you must pay for your use of the property, even if you do not have a tenancy yet. If you are succeeding to a tenancy, the date you take over the tenancy and the date you are responsible for the rent legally is the day the deceased tenant died.

We will not consider giving a new tenancy to anyone who does not make these payments. Please talk to the rent service team if you are struggling to make these payments.

Payments should be made using your relative’s card. If you don’t have this please ask your housing officer for one. We will gladly supply you with a temporary card if you need one.