Council houses can be shared with family members even if the tenancy agreement is in the name of the eligible resident. In this article, we will discuss how long do family members have to clear a council house after the death of a council house tenant. In addition to this, we will also discuss whether council houses can be passed down, how council tenancies can be succeeded and how family members can contact councils if they wish to continue living in a council house which was rented in the name of a deceased.

How Long Do You Get For Council House Clearance After The Tenant’s Death?

You get 14 rent-free days to clear the council house of a next to kin or close family member who has passed away. The person responsible for handling the deceased’s affairs should inform the council authorities of the passing away of the tenant so that the terms of clearance of the premises are agreed upon and if there are any rental dues to be cleared, they are paid before the end of the 14 day period to manage clearance and handing over of the house keys.

A council officer will pay a visit to the premises within 5 working days of being notified so as to discuss the clearance process with the family member(s) as well as survey the premises for any repairs that are required prior to handing over the property to the authorities.

If the family member is unable to clear the house within these 14 days, they can discuss a mutually agreed timeframe with the council for clearance and handing over of keys. They will be charged a weekly rent during this time.

If the deceased was claiming Housing Benefit, it will be stopped on the Monday after the date of their passing away.

In certain cases, if the person who is named on the council tenancy passes away, the other family members especially a spouse/partner or children would like to continue living in the same council house. Should anyone prefer to do so, they can check with their council office and apply for a “Succession Tenancy”.

If a family member was sharing the council house with the deceased tenant and they do not wish to continue living in the same premises or it is too big for their needs, they will be given 4 weeks’ time from the council to make other living arrangements. They will not be expected to pay rent during this time. However, if they are unable to move out of the council house after 4 weeks, they will be charged “use and occupation charges” until they are able to do so.

Can I Take Over My Mum’s Council House?

Yes, you can take over your mum’s council house if you are able to fulfil the following conditions:

  • The council house is your main home
  • You have 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, you will gain succession rights to the council house of a family member if you’ve lived at least a year with them. However, if the tenancy agreement started on or after April 1, 2012, you have succession rights only if you meet all the conditions that are pre-set in the tenancy agreement.

In order to show evidence that you’ve lived in your parent’s home for at least 12 months prior to their death, you may need to provide bank statements, bills or letters addressed to you, marking the council property as your postal address. However, if there is a surviving spouse or unmarried partner, their right of succession will supersede yours.

If you and your mum were joint tenants to the council housing property, you will become the sole tenant after her passing away. However, if there has already been a previous succession of the property in question, a second succession may not be possible; until there is an exception made by council authorities. 

In order to prove your right to succession, you will be required to fill out a form after you inform the local council or housing association of the death. They may ask you to provide a copy of the death certificate along with proof of your stay in the premises for 12 months and a confirmation of no surviving partner to claim inheritance. You can take help from your local Citizen’s Advice office.

Can Council Houses Be Passed Down?

Yes, 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.

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.

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.

Conclusion:

If a council house tenant was living alone and has passed away, their family members will have 14 days to clear the council house of their belongings and hand over the keys to the council authorities. However, if there were family members living with the deceased at the time of their death and they wish to continue living in the same council house, they can apply for a succession tenancy with the council authorities. In most cases, council houses are passed down to surviving partners/spouses or children if they have been sharing the property with the deceased for at least a year.  

FAQs: How Long Do You Get For Council House Clearance After The Tenant’s Death?

How do you clear a house when someone dies?

If the deceased was living on a rented property, the family members will be assigned a date by the landlord to clear the house. They should make sure that in addition to removal of all the belongings of the deceased, they have also gotten rid of the trash and cleaned the house before handing over keys to the landlord.

What happens to a council tenancy when someone dies?

If the person named on the council tenancy dies, other family members who were living with them can succeed in the tenancy by having the council house passed down to them. If they choose to leave the premises or exchange the current council house with a smaller one, they can request the council authorities for the same.

Can you inherit a council tenancy?

Yes, you can inherit a council tenancy but this can only be done once. After one succession of tenancy, you will need to seek permission from the council authorities for a second succession which is usually uncommon unless the local council decides to make an exception. 

Can someone live with me in my council house?

Yes, anyone can live with you in your council house. However, they won’t be able to enjoy the rights of a tenant unless their name is on the tenancy agreement. For this purpose, you may have to convert your tenancy agreement to a joint one.

Can I add my son to my council tenancy UK?

Yes, you can add or son to your tenancy agreement by taking permission from your local council office or housing association landlord.

References:

What to do when a Council tenant dies – The tenant lived alone.

What to do after the death of a council tenant who lived alone

Ending a council house tenancy after a relative has died

Staying in your council home when someone dies

Can you inherit a council tenancy? – Shelter England

Taking over a tenancy

Succession rights – Shelter Cymru

Can you inherit a council tenancy?

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