What to do when a residential tenant dies

9th Jul 2024 | Property Management

Being one of the most common issues raised on Propertymark lettings helpline. The death of a tenant can be a very stressful time.

Depending on what the tenant may or may not have arranged will impact on the action the agent needs to take. The most important thing to remember is that the tenancy doesn’t just automatically end.

If the tenant died in suspicious circumstances i.e. suicide or murder the first step would be reporting the death to the police. If possible, you will need to contact the tenant’s next of kin to inform them of the death but also check to see if they left a will and request a copy.

If a next of kin is untraceable, it is advised to contact a specialist court officer, known as the Public Trustee, to see if they’ve been instructed to deal with the estate on behalf of the tenant.

If there is a will confirming who can act as executor to the tenant’s estate, it would be suggested that the Executor provide a probate grant and sufficient ID to prove they have authority to deal with this matter.

A mutual surrender of the tenancy should be agreed with respect of any rent arrears and distribution of any deposit. Necessary arrangements can be made for the next of kin to collect the tenant's personal belongings.

There may be cases in which the tenant dies leaving no will. This will mean they died intestate and will need to liaise with the next of kin in respect of the tenancy, asking them for a grant of letters of administration alongside ID. Thereafter you should liaise with the next of kin agreeing to the mutual surrender of the tenancy.

The Public Trustee will be appointed if the tenant does not have a next of kin. To reclaim your property in these circumstances, you will need to:-

Post a letter to the tenant's last known address saying you are giving written notice

Apply to register the notice with the Public Trustee

Once the application has been registered, this will then appear on the Public Trustee Register to confirm the tenancy has ended. Only then are you allowed to rent or sell the property again.


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