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Dealing with the deceased's rented home

What to do when a tenant dies depends on whether their home belongs to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), a registered Housing Association or a private landlord. It also depends on whether or not the deceased was sharing the rented home with others.

If the property is privately rented

In normal circumstances a notice period to end the contract must be given to the landlord. However, if the deceased was living in a home owned by a private landlord, the contract between the deceased and the landlord should detail what will happen if the tenant dies.

Apart from this, if a tenant dies while renting a private property and nothing is stated in the tenancy agreement it then becomes a civil matter between the landlord and the family of the tenant.

What happens to a NIHE/registered Housing Association tenancy when someone dies?

In certain situations the tenancy may be passed on to another individual, depending on the type of tenancy and the specific situation.

If you are in doubt about what type of tenancy the deceased had or have questions about the tenancy, contact the Northern Ireland Housing Executive or your Housing Association.

If you are a family member

If you are the spouse, partner, civil partner or other family member of the person who has died, and have been living in the home continuously for at least 12 months, you have the right to take over the tenancy.

However, this can only happen once, so it won't automatically be possible if the deceased had taken over the tenancy from another family member who died.

In these cases, speak to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive or your Housing Association about a new tenancy.

If you had a joint tenancy with the person who has died

If you're a joint tenant, you have the right to take over the tenancy and stay in your home. The surviving joint tenant is responsible for any rent arrears on the property.

You lived with the deceased but weren't a joint tenant or family member

If you’re not a joint tenant or a family member who has lived with the deceased for at least 12 months, you may still be able to take over the tenancy. Ask your landlord about this.

Northern Ireland Housing Executive/Registered Housing Association accommodation adapted for a person with disabilities

If the deceased had disabilities, but the surviving tenant does not, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive/Housing Association may suggest the surviving tenant moves to a more suitable home. The adapted home would then be available for another person with disabilities.

House sales applications

Contact the Northern Ireland Housing Executive/Housing Association as soon as possible if the deceased was making an application to buy their home.

They will tell you what will happen with the application and, if you are taking over the tenancy, what your situation will be regarding the right to buy scheme.

Surviving Northern Ireland Housing Executive/Registered Housing Association tenants who want to move out

If you want to move out from the property you shared with the deceased, speak to landlord. They may be able to arrange a transfer or advise on other options.

Moving out of a Northern Ireland Housing Executive/Registered Housing Association property

You'll need to clear the home of all the deceased's property and hand in the keys at the end of the notice period. However, if you need longer than four weeks, the landlord is likely to be sympathetic.

They may also be able to advise if any unwanted furniture can be passed on to other people or organisations.

You should also:

  • redirect the post
  • read the gas and electricity meters
  • tell utility companies, such as Phoenix Gas and Power NI, and arrange to pay the final bills
  • turn off the water at the stopcock
  • secure the property
  • inform the Northern Ireland Housing Executive if the deceased received housing benefit

If the deceased was living alone in a Northern Ireland Housing Executive/Registered Housing Association house

You should let the landlord know as soon as possible that the person has died. They will advise on what needs to be done to finalise any outstanding issues.

Rent will probably continue to be charged until the landlord is notified. Please check with the landlord concerned.

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