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Tenancy succession

Succession is a legal term used when a person takes over a tenancy when the tenant dies. We call a person who inherits a tenancy the “successor”.

When the original tenant passes his or her tenancy to someone else we count this as a succession so the person taking on the tenancy is a successor.

People who become Islington tenants following a mutual exchange are only a successor in their new tenancy if they were a successor in their old tenancy.

In general, a person who got a tenancy as a result of a court order will only be a successor if the previous tenant was already a successor.

Am I eligible to succeed a tenancy?

You can only succeed the tenancy if the council approves your claim. There are a number of rules that we need to be satisfied your claim complies with, before we can consider you as a successor tenant. These rules are laid down in both law and the council policy.

There can only be one succession of a secure tenancy. This means that if the deceased tenant was already a successor then the tenancy cannot be passed on again to another person. If the deceased tenant took over the tenancy from someone else before 1985 they may not be classed as a successor because tenancy changes were processed differently then. In these circumstances we will check our own records to find out what paperwork was completed at the time of the previous tenancy change to confirm if a succession can take place now

For secure tenants of Islington Council with a tenancy date of before 1st April 2012, the following relatives could succeed automatically to a tenancy.

  • A joint tenant
  • The deceased tenant’s spouse or civil partner- that is equivalent to the married partner of the deceased tenant.
  • Partners of the opposite or same sex- that is the unmarried heterosexual or same sex partner, of the tenant.

Other eligible relatives

  • Parent
  • Grandparent
  • Child
  • Grandchild
  • Sibling
  • Uncle or Aunt
  • Nephew or Niece
  • A half brother or sister
  • Foster children

However, changes in the law that took effect from April 1st 2012 have limited the right of succession to a smaller group of relatives, namely:

  • A joint tenant
  • The deceased tenant’s spouse or civil partner- that is equivalent to the married partner of the deceased tenant.
  • Partners of the opposite or same sex- that is the unmarried heterosexual or same sex partner, of the tenant.

These changes only affect tenancies where the tenancy date is April 1st 2012 or after.

The following relatives would no longer have an automatic right to succeed but the council may allow them to succeed if they have been living in the property for 12 months before the death of the  tenant and to have been living at the property for at least 3 out of the past 5 years (not consecutive) and if the tenancy has lasted 3 years or less, they would need to have been living in the property for the lifetime of the tenancy and not to own another property or have any interest in another property at the time of death of the tenant.  If the grant of a discretionary tenancy would lead to under-occupation or the occupation of an adapted property that was not needed; the tenant will be required to move to a smaller property that is suitable for their housing needs.  Some exceptional circumstances may apply e.g. if the applicant has been acting as the main carer.  These are called discretionary tenancies:

  • Parent
  • Grandparent
  • Child
  • Grandchild
  • Sibling
  • Uncle or Aunt
  • Nephew or Niece
  • A half brother or sister

It should also be noted that recent case law has decided that a foster child is not counted as a child for the purposes of succession and that only blood relations (including step-children and illegitimate children) should be considered for succession in future.  This change takes effect from 1st July 2013.

If there is more than one person who would like to succeed the tenancy we will consider people in turn dependent on their relationship to the tenant starting with the joint tenant then the deceased tenant’s husband/wife or civil partner then their partner (including same-sex partner) and then the other eligible family members. If there is no joint tenant, husband/wife civil partner or partner then the eligible members of the tenant’s family can decide between them who should have the tenancy. If the family members are not able to reach a decision on who should inherit the tenancy, we will make the decision for them.

The deceased tenant’s home must also be your only or main home. Unless you are the joint tenant or the deceased tenant’s husband/wife or civil partner, you must also be able to show that you were living with the deceased tenant continuously for at least 12 months before the tenant’s death.

What information do we need to consider a claim to succeed?

We need to see the following in order to make its decision:

  • Completed Statement of Intention to Succeed to a Tenancy and Form of Authority/ Consent.
  • The former tenant’s death certificate.
  • Proof of your full name and date of birth (e.g. birth certificate, current passport etc.)
  • Proof of your relationship to the former tenant (e.g. birth and/or marriage certificates proving the relationship etc.)
  • Proof that you currently live in the property.
  • Unless you are the joint tenant, or were the deceased tenant’s husband/wife or civil partner then you need to show you were living with the tenant for 12 months by providing at least five separate and different items of official paperwork (e.g. benefit paperwork, bank statements, utility bills etc.)

What happens if you agree my claim?

Once we have received this information we will confirm if we approve your claim. If we are satisfied with the information provided, we will write to you confirming the date of your succession to the tenancy. This will be the first Monday after the death of the tenant, and you will be liable for rent and all other tenancy conditions from this date.  There are some additional things that we also have to take into account. These are:

Is the home bigger than you need?

If it is larger than you need by more than two bedrooms or more, you may inherit the tenancy but we will ask you to move to a smaller home. We have to do this because we have many families living in unsuitable accommodation that a need bigger home. We will work with you to find and move to a smaller home. However, if you refuse to move we can ask a court to force you to move. This rule does not apply to joint tenants or the deceased tenant’s husband/wife or their civil partner. They can stay in the property even though it is too big for them although we can help them move to a smaller home if they wish.

Is the deceased tenant’s home adapted for people with special needs?

If it has been adapted for people with special needs, but you and your family do not need to use the special adaptations, we will ask you to move to an alternative property. This is because we need to ensure that special aids and adaptations are available to people that genuinely need them.

We will work with you to find and move to a different home. However, if you refuse to move we can ask a court to force you to move. This condition applies to any person who wants to inherit the tenancy.

Had the deceased tenant been taken to court by Islington Council?

If the deceased tenant had any rent arrears when they died they will not be passed on to the successor, unless they are the joint tenant. However, if there is an outstanding court order, the successor takes on the terms and conditions of the court order.

Circumstances in which we will not approve your claim to succeed

  • If the deceased tenant was a successor then no one can succeed again; There can only be one succession for each tenancy.
  • Where the deceased tenant lived by themselves when they died. No one can succeed as no one else was resident at the property.
  • If the deceased had a court order against them then the right to pass on their tenancy to someone else when they die may have been lost.

If we do not accept your claim we will advise you that you have to make urgent arrangements to move out and return the keys to us. We will serve a notice on the Public Trustee to officially terminate the deceased tenant’s tenancy. If you have not moved out by the end of the notice period, we will take the necessary legal action to take back possession of the property.

For the time you remain in the property until we receive the keys we will charge you for its use and occupation. If we have to take you to court you may be liable to pay our costs.

How can I make a claim?

If you wish to make a claim to take on an Islington Council property following the death of the tenant you need to speak urgently to the Tenancy Management Advisor at your local area housing office.

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