What happens if a tenant dies during a tenancy?
This is not a particularly cheerful subject to write about but it has come about from a question we were asked by a Landlord. Hopefully it is not a situation you will ever find yourself in but it is important to deal with it correctly, for everyone’s sake so we thought we’d share with you.
Where a sole tenant dies then the tenancy will continue, and the tenant becomes the estate of the deceased. Where a Married tenant dies all rights under the tenancy are transferred to the surviving spouse.
Assuming your tenant was a sole tenant then much of what happens next will depend on whether you are in a fixed term or periodic tenancy. If it is still in the fixed term, then it will come to an end when the fixed term ends. In a periodic the tenancy will continue until an action is taken either by the Estate giving notice, a surrender of tenancy or through a Possession notice served by the Landlord. More often than not the executors will serve you with a months notice.
In the vast majority of fixed term cases the Executors of the Estate will ask to end the tenancy early, why wouldn’t they, and it makes sense for the Landlord to agree to this. Usually a date is set in the near future giving relatives enough time to clear the property and ready it for its return to you.
The rent continues to be due until such time as the tenancy ends and it will be up to you to agree with the executors as to how this should be paid. Options might include it being paid on the normal due date by the executors, deducting from the deposit or if you are happy to wait, then from the funds of the Estate once probate has been granted.
It is important to ensure that you are taking instructions from the correct persons and it would be sensible to ask for a copy of the relevant section of the will that names the executors or a letter from the Estates solicitors.
A letter of surrender should then be drawn up detailing the terms of the surrender and signed by the executors. The property can then be emptied by the executors and you can take back possession. We’d be happy to give further guidance on this to any Landlords in need.
Please note the date this article was published as the law may have changed since it was posted. You should always seek independent legal advice if you are intending to rely on any of the contents.All resources & news