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Ending a council house tenancy after a relative has died

We are here to offer you our support and any advice during this difficult time. 

You will need to get in touch if you are the next of kin or acting on behalf of a council tenant who has died.  You can contact us in person at your Sandwell Local Office or by letter or telephone. We will need to take a copy of the death certificate, once you have one. 

If you are a family member and were living with the tenant when they died, you may be entitled to inherit the tenancy, subject to certain conditions. This is known in law as succession. If you think you may be eligible to succeed you should contact your Neighbourhood Officer.

If no one was living with the tenant and you wish to return the property to us there are things you need to be aware of.

Ending a tenancy

A tenancy does not end when a tenant dies.

Following the death of the tenant only an executor (person given authority in the tenant’s will to deal with their affairs) or an administrator (person who has been given grant of probate for the tenant) can legally end the tenancy on behalf of the tenant.

You can find out more information about this on the Directgov website and you should seek independent legal advice. We will need to see proof that the person seeking to end the tenancy is the executor or administrator.

If there is no executor or administrator the council will serve a Notice to Quit on the Public Trustee in order to end the tenancy. This will end the tenancy four weeks after service.

Rent and housing benefit

Rent will continue to be charged until the tenancy has ended and the keys to the property have been returned. Any arrears should be paid from the deceased tenant’s estate.

Please note: if the deceased tenant was claiming housing benefit this ends immediately on their death.

Returning the keys

Once the keys have been returned to the council, access to the property can only be given to the executor or administrator.

You will need to return all keys to the property to the Sandwell Local Office once it is cleared of any belongings. The keys you hand in should include all door and window keys to the property, any fob or communal keys and any store cupboard or garage keys. If you have any gas or electricity keys or cards please leave these behind in the property.

Please note: the keys must be handed into reception before midday on the Monday following the end of the tenancy. If the keys are received any time after this another full week’s rent will by charged from any estate left by the deceased.

For more information about ending a tenancy after the tenant has died, or for any wider advice or support with the ending of a tenancy, please speak to your Neighbourhood Officer at the Sandwell Local office for your town.