Isn’t there always a succession query…?

The scenario…

An RP granted a joint assured tenancy to Mr and Mrs M pre-2010. Mr M has recently died, his grandson and partner have approached us asking if they can succeed to the tenancy as they have been living at the property for the last 16 months, looking after their grandfather after he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. They have been helping with the bills and rent. Their grandmother left the property in 2014 when his grandfather started drinking heavily, she hasn’t been in contact since. Can we let the grandson succeed? His partner is expecting a child soon.

Our advice…

As this was a joint tenancy between Mr and Mrs M, the tenancy has passed from Mr M to Mrs M. You can’t “stop” the tenancy passing via the right of survivorship to the remaining sole tenant, even if it is believed she was not living at the property at the time of Mr M’s death. This is something that happens automatically by law, the tenancy now stands in the sole name of Mrs M, the tenancy has passed to her by succession - this will count as a succession right and therefore the succession right has been used up, there will be no right of succession for the grandson to use.

You also can’t agree to bypass Mrs M and give the tenancy to the grandson now – the tenancy has passed to Mrs M as the remaining joint tenant automatically by operation of law on the date of death – you don’t have to fill in any paperwork to make it happen (you just need to change your records to her name).

If Mrs M has not been living at the property nor using the property as her only or principal home, then you do have the option of bringing the tenancy to an end by serving an NTQ on her (if a periodic tenancy) for non-occupation. If you do start court proceedings against her for possession and a possession order is made, then that may assist the grandson is getting rehoused.

Further Information

If you have any questions relating to this query, please contact Helen Tucker.