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What to do when a tenant dies

If someone still lives at the address

If there is still someone living at the property it may be possible for them to take over the tenancy. We will grant the tenancy to a husband or wife, partner or any surviving joint tenants. For tenancies that started before 1 July 2013 it may be possible for the tenancy to pass on to a close member of the deceased family, as long as they have been living there for at least a year prior to the death. For tenancies that started on or after 1 July 2013 please contact the Estate Management team for advice, details in the contact panel on this page.

Can I take over the tenancy?

This depends on the type of tenancy and the situation. In certain situations, a tenancy may pass to another person known as a ‘qualifying person’. When the tenancy is taken over by someone after the tenant’s death, this is known as 'succession'. A tenancy can only pass on by succession once after this, by law, the tenancy must end.

Who is a qualifying person?

The law states who can take over a tenancy after a tenant dies. You can only take over the tenancy after the tenant’s death in the following circumstances.

  • If you had a joint tenancy with the person who has died
  • If you are a joint tenant living at the property at the time of the death, you have the right to take over the tenancy and stay in your home
  • If you are the husband, wife, partner or other family member of the person who has died, and the house was your main home, you may have the right to take over the tenancy. If you were the tenant’s partner the home must have been your only or main home for at least 12 months

If the person who died lived alone

If there is nobody who qualifies to take over the tenancy we will end the tenancy. If you are dealing with the arrangements, please ensure you inform Customer Services as soon as possible after death by telephoning 01695 577177.

When a tenant dies, we do not normally enforce the usual rule that states tenancies end four weeks after we are notified. Instead, tenancies are usually brought to an end when keys for the property are handed in. Please hand in all of the keys to the property. Please remember to hand in additional keys or 'fobs' if the property is somewhere which benefits from security doors to communal areas or entrances, or where there is access to any outside buildings.

Will rent have to be paid?

Rent must be paid until the keys are returned. When you tell us about the death, our housing team will tell you how much rent is due although you may also have to contact benefits on 01695 577177. The rent and any arrears should be paid from any funds in the deceased person's estate. If there are no funds in the estate, we will not pursue any outstanding rent from the next of kin. The executor of the estate must inform us in writing if there are no funds available.

Clearing the property

All belongings, including carpets and curtains, must be removed from the property. Please remember to check sheds, greenhouses and lofts for belongings. If you leave any belongings in the property when you give back the keys, we will dispose of them and charge the estate for the work. If you need help clearing the property, contact the refuse department as they may be able to collect bulky or large items for a small charge. We may also be able to put you in touch with other local organisations who may be able to help you clear the property or who may take unwanted items for charity.

Please note that goods cannot be collected from the property by our bulky collection service or other organisations after you have returned the keys. The property must be cleared before the keys are returned to the council. A member of the Voids and Allocations team will contact you to arrange to carry out a property inspection before you return the keys and discuss any queries you may have.

Meter readings

For your own benefit, please make arrangements for final meter readings to be taken by the companies who supply the gas and electricity to the property. Unfortunately because there are a number of domestic electricity and gas suppliers, the council will not necessarily know who are the suppliers to this property. There may be a sticker on the meters, or you may find telephone numbers on old bills. It may also be advisable for you to notify the company who provides the phone line and United Utilities who supply the water to the property.


Sometimes we arrange for properties to be protected with alarms linked to a Central Monitoring Station. Staff may have already made arrangements with you about this. If they have, or they do, it is important that you notify them immediately of any changes, which might affect these arrangements.

How do I deal with housing benefit?

If the person who died was getting housing benefit, you must tell the housing benefit team on 01695 577177. You should note that council tax benefit, income support and housing benefit are all cancelled by the council from the closest Monday to the date of death.

Getting a death certificate

You must record the death officially by registering with the Registrar (external link). You will need an appointment to do this. You can purchase death certificates at the same time; you will need these in dealing with the deceased's affairs.

Financial help

If you are on a low income, you may be able to get extra help. You can fill in a claim for funeral payment, which comes from the social fund, to help cover the costs of the funeral itself. The Registrar (external link) , where you record the death, can give you a form to apply for this.

Tell us once

Tell Us Once (external link) is a service that lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go.