Helpful Tips Tenancy Management

Call of the Week: What to do when a tenant dies

Call of the week
Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

This week our Call of the Week looks at the sensitive topic of what landlords should do following the death of a tenant.

A tenancy does not end when a tenant dies, and this article will explore several frequently asked questions from landlords around this topic.

A couple were renting my property, and now one in the couple has died. What do I do now?

When this happens, assuming this is a joint tenancy agreement, the surviving partner will remain in the property as a ‘sole tenant’, and this means that they will have the same rights and obligations contained in the tenancy agreement. Landlords must make sure that all communications are given in the name of the survivor, and a new tenancy agreement is not required unless it is being renewed or a new agreement is drawn up. This is falls under the right of survivorship.

When a sole tenant dies, do I need to inform the insurance company?

Yes, when a sole tenant dies and the property remains unoccupied, the insurance company needs to be informed. It is very important to note that the landlord has no automatic right to access the property, unless they have prior consent from the personal representative or the Office of the Public Trustee. Otherwise, gaining access without prior permission is seen in the eyes of the law as being an unlawful eviction.

Since the death of a tenant does not mean a tenancy is ended, step by step, what do I need to know when it comes to gaining possession of the property?

You need the agreement of the tenant’s personal representative before you can gain possession of the property-you do not just gain possession automatically if a tenant dies.

To gain possession back, you need to serve notice, and for periodic tenancies you can serve a section 8 ground 7 notice, or a section 21 notice. This must be delivered to the tenants’ personal representative and this will expire two months later.

Any more questions?

If you have any further questions about this, do not hesitate to get in touch with our landlord advice team.

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.

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