Housing and tenancy issues

You may need to deal with issues surrounding your child's housing such as tenancy agreements, rent, bills and housing benefit when they die.

What happens to a tenancy?

If you have been living with your child, you may have a right to take over the tenancy, depending on what kind of tenancy it is. You can check the type of tenancy with the landlord or at your local Citizens Advice Bureau, or you can search online at: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/index/getadvice.

England and Wales

If you are a joint tenant the tenancy will continue under the 'right of survivorship'. However, if you are not officially a joint tenant you will only have basic protection and may be asked to leave your home.

Northern Ireland

If no one is eligible to take over the tenancy, it can be ended easily. If you think this applies to you, you should seek specialist advice as soon as possible.

Scotland

You may be able to take over the tenancy, but this depends on the original tenancy agreement.

Paying rent

If you take over a tenancy you will become liable for the rent. You are not liable for any arrears incurred by your child; however, the council may require you to take on the rent arrears as a condition for granting tenancy.

Council tax

If your child was in arrears with their council tax, the local authority may use their discretion and write the debt off.

However, if you, or someone else, have been jointly liable with your child, the local authority can pursue the debt. You may be able to persuade them that the debt is not recoverable or uneconomical to collect, try to get expert advice about this.

If the local authority does not agree to write off the arrears and there is no one jointly liable, they will take the outstanding amount from the estate. If there are not enough funds in the estate they will have to write the debt off.

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction

If your child was claiming Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction (which replaced Council Tax Benefit from April 2013), you need to contact the local authority as soon as possible and tell them what's happened.

If your child was also claiming on behalf of someone else, that person may be able to continue claiming in her/his own right.

Water and sewerage charges (England and Wales)

If you have been sharing a home with your child, you will still be liable for water and sewerage charges even if your name isn't on the bill. This means you are now responsible for both ongoing charges and any arrears.

Gas and electricity

You should get in touch with the gas and/or electricity companies that provide fuel for your child's home as soon as possible. The agreement with your child will then end and the supply will be stopped if there is no longer anyone living on the premises.

If you are going to continue living at the address, and you need gas and electricity supplies to continue, let the fuel companies know that you want to take over the accounts.

Reviewed: December 2015
Next planned review: December 2016

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