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 if 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.
If the property is a NIHE/registered Housing Association tenancy
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 deceased
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.
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.
NIHE/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
If the deceased was making an application to buy their home, contact the Northern Ireland Housing Executive/Housing Association as soon as possible. They will be able to tell you what will happen with the application. If you are taking over the tenancy they will also be able to tell you about your eligibility for the right to buy scheme.
Surviving NIHE/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 NIHE/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
- tell the Northern Ireland Housing Executive if the deceased received housing benefit
If the deceased was living alone in a NIHE/Registered Housing Association house, you should let the landlord know as soon as possible that the person has died. They will tell you what needs to be done to sort out any outstanding issues.
Rent will probably continue to be charged until the landlord is notified. Please check with the landlord concerned.