Find out what the rules are around the succession or assignment of a Lambeth Housing tenancy.

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1. What is a succession?

Succession is the means by which a secure tenancy passes on the death of the original tenant, to someone else who has the legal right to inherit it.

Tenants with an introductory tenancy also have the right of succession if the intending successor lived at the tenant's property as their only or principal home immediately before their death.

Any qualifying successor would succeed to the remaining period of the introductory tenancy which would then become secure at the end of that period.

A tenancy can only be passed on once

There can only be one succession of a secure or introductory tenancy.

This means that if the deceased tenant was already a successor in their own right, the tenancy can't normally be passed on again to another person.

When we receive a claim for succession, we'll carry out checks to establish whether or not there has already been an succession of the tenancy.

Joint tenants

If a tenancy is held in joint names and one of the tenants dies, the tenancy will pass on to the surviving tenant. This is regarded as a succession, so when the remaining joint tenant dies, there can be no further succession.

For older tenancies where there are more than two tenants, if one of the tenants dies, the tenancy will continue for the remaining tenants. This will not count as a succession until the tenancy is passed to the last surviving tenant.

No one to succeed

If a tenant dies and there is no one who qualifies to succeed their tenancy, the tenancy doesn't end automatically until a Notice to Quit is served by the executor of the tenant's will or the Public Trustee which brings the tenancy to an end after 28 days.

2. Succession and tenancies created before 1 April 2012

Secure or flexible tenancies granted before 1 April 2012 can pass on automatically to tenant’s husband, wife or civil partner if they were living with the tenant at the time of their death.

If there's no spouse or civil partner, the tenancy can pass on to a family member, including partner, if they have been living at the property with the tenant continuously for the 12 months before their death.

Where more than one family member can succeed tenancy, they will need to reach an agreement between themselves as to who inherits the tenancy. If a decision can't be reached, then we will select a successor to the tenancy as only one person may claim the right to succession.

Who qualifies as a family member

Family members are defined as:

  • parents
  • grandparents
  • children (including adoptive children)
  • grandchildren
  • brothers and sisters
  • uncles and aunts
  • nieces and nephews
  • step relations
  • half relations.

What happens if someone doesn't have the right to succeed a tenancy

Where the death of a sole tenant leaves someone in the property without an automatic right to succeed the tenancy, we will consider granting a discretionary tenancy for the property or somewhere else if the current property would be under-occupied or has been adapted and doesn't meet their need.

This could include cases where the person is:

  • a non-qualifying family member and has been living with the tenant for at least 12 months before their death
  • a close family member of the deceased tenant who had previously been a successor at the property
  • someone who has cared for the deceased tenant while living in the property
  • someone who has accepted responsibility for the deceased tenant's dependent children.

Under-occupation and adapted properties

Only wives, husbands or civil partners have the legal right to remain in the property even if it is too big for them.

If the person who succeeds the tenancy is anyone else, we will normally ask the person to move to a smaller property if it is larger than they need.

This is because of the housing shortage in the borough and our need to alleviate overcrowding.

3. Succession and tenancies created on or after 1 April 2012

For tenancies created since 1 April 2012, the legal right to inherit a tenancy is now limited to:

  • husbands and wives
  • civil partners
  • couples living together as if they are spouses or civil partners
  • children (including adoptive children).

No other family member can succeed to the tenancy.

4. How to make a claim for succession

Fill in our online form to get the process started for succeeding a tenancy.

Apply to succeed a tenancy

We have the right to review and decline a decision to grant a succession and this will normally be made by a senior officer to the officer who made the original decision.

If a child succeeds their parent's tenancy, we or an adult will hold the tenancy in a trust until the child reaches the age of 18.

When the successor takes the tenancy, it is not a new tenancy because the successor is taking over the original tenancy. The legal interest in the property and the obligations of the tenancy (both the rights and responsibilities) pass to the successor.

5. Assignments

An assignment is where a tenancy has been legally transferred from one person to another and must be done by a legal document called a Deed of Assignment.

Examples of where a tenant may wish to assign their tenancy to someone else include when a person moves into a residential care home or to another country.

A secure tenancy can only be assigned:

  • to a person who could have succeeded the tenancy on the death of the tenant
  • in a property transfer order under matrimonial and family legislation
  • in a mutual exchange.

Assigning your tenancy counts as a ‘succession’ and only one succession is allowed.

This means that:

  • if you gained the tenancy through an assignment or succession you can't pass it on
  • the person who you assign the tenancy to can’t assign it or have it succeeded by someone else.

What to think about before you apply

It is strongly advised that you take legal advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor as there are a number of matters to consider.

For example, if you assign your tenancy to someone else, you will lose all legal rights to the tenancy and you won’t be able to get them back. Make sure you’ve thought very carefully before assigning your tenancy to someone else and don’t be forced into doing it.

If you assign the tenancy and the new tenant asks you to leave, you could be left without a place to live, as we won’t have to find you a new home.

Assigning your tenancy could also affect how much housing benefit your household can get.

Why we wouldn’t approve your application

We won’t approve your application if:

  • the person you want to assign to doesn't have the right to succeed to the tenancy if you were to die
  • you don’t live with the person you want to assign your tenancy to or you’re not married or in a civil partnership with them
  • your home is too big for the person you want to give the tenancy to
  • you don’t make arrangements to pay any debts you owe us
  • we think you’re being forced to apply against your will.

How to assign your tenancy to someone else

Fill in our online form to get the process started on assigning your tenancy to someone else.

Apply to assign your tenancy