Council houses can be passed down but this can only be applied once per the tenancy agreement. For instance, if the tenancy has passed down from one person to another, the successor will not be able to pass it down again. The only exception to this rule may be the permission for “second succession” or “discretionary succession” granted by local council authorities in their council tenancy agreement with renters.

What Are Discretionary Succession Rights?

Discretionary succession rights are the rights to succession of someone who may not fulfil the desired criteria under statuary succession for council tenancy. As the name suggests, these are rights to being passed down a council house, at the discretion and decision of council authorities once claimants place their application to continue living in a council property after the death of the tenant in whose name the council tenancy agreement was originally made.

To claim discretionary succession rights under secure tenancy, the claimant must fulfil either of the following conditions:

  • Be a spouse or partner of the deceased council tenant, have lived at their council property as their main residence and should have been living with the deceased at the time of their death; or
  • Be the deceased’s parent, grandparent, adult child, grandchild or sibling, have lived with them for a minimum period of five years, in their council house as the main residence of the claimant. 

In either of the cases, the following terms must be kept in view by claimants as councils will be basing their decisions while considering them:

  • If the deceased tenant is only survived by a minor child(ren), the council authority will ask for a trustee to be appointed from their immediate family. In rare cases, housing association charities may serve as the trust under which the children continue to live at the premises.
  • In the case of a flexible tenancy in place, it is essential for the claiming spouse or partner to have shared the premises with the deceased for at least a year.
  • When there is more than one claimant for discretionary succession, the council expects the family members to make their choice in deciding who to nominate from the benefit of discretionary succession. If they fail to do so, the council has the authority to choose from the best option in their view.
  • If the discretionary successor is spouse or partner, they can continue living in the same council house for which the claim is being made. However, in the case of any other successor, the council has the right to assess the resident’s needs due to a change in the number of household members and re-assign another council property depending on the bedroom standard.

In addition to this, the type of tenancy also plays an important role in deciding on the succession of a renter. Let’s analyse the different situations that apply in the case of succession of tenancy:

  • The succession of a council house in case of joint tenancy: A joint succession agreement includes two (or more) tenants as the renters who share the responsibility of maintaining responsibilities towards the property. In this case, if one tenant dies, the tenancy is automatically passed on to the surviving tenant. However, it is essential for the successor to maintain the council property as their main residence.
  • The succession of a council house in case of sole tenancy: In most cases, council house tenancy can be passed down to the surviving partner/spouse/civil or unmarried partner of a deceased tenant through “succession rights”. However, it is essential for the partner to be living in the council house at the time of the demise of their partner in whose name the tenancy agreement is. In some cases, it may also be passed down to close family members if the deceased is your parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle, brother or sister, child, grandchild, niece or nephew.

As a general rule, in the case of succession rights, the rights of surviving partners override those of close family members.

To learn more about council housing succession, we will explore the following topics:

  • Can Council House Be Passed Down Without Succession Rights?
  • What Happens When Council House Tenancy Cannot Be Passed Down?
  • Can My Daughter Take Over My Council House?
  • How Do I Add Someone To My Council Tenancy?
  • What Are The Different Types Of Tenancies For Council Housing?

Can Council House Be Passed Down Without Succession Rights?

There are times when someone without succession rights would like to stay in a council house vacated either by the tenant’s choice to move out or their death. In such a situation, the interested party may file an application with the local council or the housing association landlord.

Their application has a greater chance of acceptance if the previous tenant was under a secure tenancy agreement and if the current applicant:

  • had been sharing the council house with the previous tenant for at least one year
  • had been taking care of the previous tenant
  • had taken the responsibility of the previous tenant’s children (if any)

If the applicant fulfils any of the above criteria, the council may consider allowing them to continue with living in the same property under a new tenancy agreement or find more suitable council housing premises for them.

What Happens When Council House Tenancy Cannot Be Passed Down?

If the council decides that you do not qualify to be a successor for council house tenancy, they will give you a 4-week notice to vacate the premises. However, if tenants fail to meet this deadline, council authorities can get a court order issued for the vacation of premises. Unless the tenant shows evidence of their right to success, the local council will not be able to stop or delay the eviction process.

If a tenant is afraid of being homeless as a result of this eviction they can get help from the council. In some cases, you may be asked to evict the premises as the current council house is in excess of your needs and the council has been able to find a more suitable property to meet your requirements.

If you think that the council has made a mistake by asking you to vacate the premises and not approving your succession to tenancy, contact your local citizen’s advice bureau.

Can My Daughter Take Over My Council House?

Yes, your daughter can take over your council house if she is able to fulfil the following conditions:

  • The council house is her main home
  • She has lived there for at least 12 months 
  • It is a secure tenancy
  • There is no partner to inherit the council housing tenancy

If the tenancy agreement of the premises in question started before April 1, 2012, your daughter will gain succession rights to the council house. However, if the tenancy agreement started on or after April 1, 2012, she will have succession rights only if she meets all the conditions that are pre-set in the tenancy agreement.

In order to show evidence that your daughter has lived in your council house for at least 12 months, she may need to provide bank statements, bills or letters addressed to her, marking the council property as her postal address. You can take help from your local Citizen’s Advice office.

How Do I Add Someone To My Council Tenancy?

You can add someone to your council tenancy by seeking permission from your local council office and following their guidelines with regards to changes in your tenancy agreement. Joint tenancies are usually applied in cases where:

  • The additional tenant is the resident’s husband, wife or civil partner
  • The additional tenant has been living with the resident as part of their household for at least 12 months
  • The additional tenant has succession rights and could inherit the tenancy 
  • The additional tenant has lived with the resident when they first moved into their council home

As joint tenants, both of you will become responsible for the following:

  • Timely payment of the rent
  • Protection and care of council property
  • Each other’s social attitudes

What Are The Different Types Of Tenancies For Council Housing?

A tenancy agreement serves as a legal agreement bound by terms and conditions that the undersigning parties agree to while a living space is rented out. Tenancy agreements for council housing may be classified as below:

  • Introductory Tenancy: This is considered to be a 12 month trial period for tenants during which their rights to exchange property or make modifications to it are limited. 
  • Secure Tenancy: This form of tenancy secures your occupancy in the council house for life; unless you break any tenancy rules stated in the agreement. In this case, you may sub-let rooms in the property but not the entire premises. 
  • Flexible Tenancy: This type of tenancy is usually for a fixed term of 2 to 5 years; at the end of which the council may decide to offer you a renewed contract on similar terms, offer a secure tenancy or not renew at any terms at all. 
  • Joint Tenancy: Under this contract, you and the joint tenant both become liable for rent payments and become eligible for all the privileges under secure tenancy jointly. 

Conclusion:

Discretionary succession takes place in instances where council authorities make an exemption to their rule with regards to the succession of council property. According to statuary succession (which is practised most commonly with regards to council property being passed down), council houses can only be passed down once under the rights of succession of tenants. However, should the council be willing to consider exceptional situations, it is termed as a discretionary succession. 

FAQs: What Are Discretionary Succession Rights

How do you prove succession rights?

Depending on your relationship with the deceased, you can prove your succession rights by providing evidence of your full name, date of birth, passport, marriage certificate as well as the evidence of your living in the property as your main residence.

Can my daughter take over my housing association tenancy?

Yes, your daughter can take over your council house if she has evidence that the council house is her main home, she has lived there for at least 12 months, it is a secure tenancy and there is no partner to inherit the council housing tenancy.

Can a carer succeed a tenancy?

Yes, a carer can succeed a tenancy if they are above 18 years of age and have lived in the council house with the tenant for a minimum period of 12 months considering the premises as their main residence.

Can two people succeed a tenancy?

No, two people cannot succeed to a tenancy at the same time. If the council property in question was under a joint tenancy agreement and one of the tenants passes away, the surviving tenant takes over as the sole tenant. Even if there is more than one claimant applying for tenancy succession, the council will give priority to a spouse or partner. 

What is discretionary succession?

Discretionary succession takes place in instances where council authorities make an exemption to their rule with regards to the succession of council property. According to statuary succession (which is practised most commonly with regards to council property being passed down), council houses can only be passed down once under the rights of succession of tenants. 

References:

Tenancy succession | Islington Council

Succession to a tenancy | Westminster City Council

Shelter Legal England – Succession rights for secure, flexible and introductory council tenancies – Shelter England

Succession Policy – HO102

Can you inherit a council tenancy? – Shelter England

Staying in your council home when someone dies

Taking over a tenancy

Succession rights – Shelter Cymru

Council housing: Types of tenancy – GOV.UK

Adding someone to your social tenancy | Housing Advice NI

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John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.