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.
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.
Contact Housing Advice NI for more information and advice.
Housing Executive or Housing Association tenancy
If the deceased was living alone in Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) or registered Housing Association accomodation, you should let the landlord know as soon as possible that the person has died.
Rent will probably continue to be charged until the landlord is notified. The landlord will also be able to tell you what needs to be done to sort out any outstanding issues. You should also tell the Housing Executive or Housing Association.
In certain situations the tenancy may be passed on to another individual, depending on the type of tenancy and the specific situation.
Family member or joint tenant
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.
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.
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 give you advice on other options.
Adapted home for a person with disabilities
If the deceased had disabilities, but the surviving tenant does not, the Housing Executive or 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.
Ongoing application to buy the 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.
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. This is usually four weeks, but if you need longer speak to the landlord.
For Housing Executive and housing association homes, you may only have a week to clear out the property and hand back the keys. This is usually because the landlord may have new tenants to move in.
The landlord 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 gas and electricity suppliers, 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