Halton Housing is committed to providing an efficient and effective service to its customers which includes acknowledgement of the rights provided within the current legislation and provision of advice on them, whilst also satisfying housing need and aspiration through offering choice in housing location. This policy covers the way in which tenancies can be ‘taken over’ via Succession, namely:
- succession on the death of a named tenant
- Halton Housing does have the opportunity to consider a discretionary succession, subject to the potential successor meeting the basic requirements.
Officers of Halton Housing will have due regard to the Diversity and Customer Care policies when implementing this policy. Halton Housing usually refers to our “tenants” as “customers” but during this procedure we may use the legal term of ‘tenant’ to clarify the policy/legal requirements.
A succession is where a qualifying person takes over the tenancy upon the death of the existing tenant including their tenancy agreement and conditions of tenancy. Only one succession is permitted per tenancy by law.
At the point of signing the deed of assignment any tenant who succeeds to a tenancy that commenced prior to 5thDecember 2005 will have some additional protected rights, namely that they would have the right to a further succession after the Large Stock Voluntary Transfer from Halton Borough Council.
There are a number of properties, that have secure tenancies which are managed differently under the Housing Act 1985, but the general principles of this policy will still apply.
Halton Housing will respond promptly and sensitively when information is received that a tenant has died and will contact the remaining persons living in the property and next of kin, where known, advice and support will be provided to those persons.
The following are potential successors:
- The successor of a transferring tenant (whether they are a spouse, partner or same sex partner)
- Any other member of the family of a transferring tenant
- A spouse, partner or same sex partner of an assured tenant,
- Any other member of the family of an assured tenant.
In considering applications for succession, Halton Housing will consider the implications of:
- The Localism Act 2011 which affects all types of tenancy granted after 1stApril 2012 (succession only applies to Joint Tenant, Spouse, Civil Partner or person living in the property as a Spouse or Civil Partner)
- Under occupation by the statutory successor, where the statutory successor is a member of the family
- Properties converted for tenants with special needs when the successor does not have such requirements
- Persons who are left in possession but not eligible to succeed. Such persons will be provided with advice on other housing options and potential re-housing through Halton Housing
Halton Housing will ensure that the statutory rights of persons qualifying to the tenancy are protected and acted upon.
Requests for succession should be made by the potential successors within 1 month of the death of the named tenant. On the notification of the death of a tenant and the request for succession, a Tenancy Management Officer from Halton Housing will interview the prospective successor and make a formal report to the Tenancy Management Team Leader for a decision to be made.
The spouse of the tenant (i.e. husband or wife) or common law partner (including same sex partner) if they were living at the property at the time of death will automatically succeed to the tenancy so long as there has been no previous succession with Halton Housing as the Landlord, and granted before 1stApril 2012.
If there is no spouse or common law partner (including same sex partner), family members may also succeed if they can prove that they were living at the property for 12 months prior to the death of the tenant (only if the tenancy was granted prior to 1stApril 2012). Family members can include parent, son, daughter, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandparent, grandchild, nephew or niece whether by blood, marriage or adoption.
Only one discretionary succession would be allowed, and factors to be considered in such cases would include:-
- Whether the person satisfied the basic conditions for succession for statutory cases in terms of residence and being a member of the family qualifying to succeed, i.e. the person is the spouse, or a member of the family of the deceased tenant and has lived with them for at least 12 months prior to the tenant’s death;
- Whether the property was of a type the person would be offered under the Halton Housing Allocations policy;
- Consideration would be given where the person was a carer of the deceased tenant or was cared for by the deceased tenant;
- The length of time that this property has been their permanent home.
In exceptional circumstances, this could result in Halton Housing considering an application for succession from a minor, i.e. from someone who is under the age of 18. This is a complex area of the law and, if successful, would invariably result in some form of equitable tenancy being granted. It is essential that proper legal advice is obtained when dealing with any such application.
If there is more than one person claiming succession and the family cannot reach agreement, then, Halton Housing will decide who the tenancy should pass to. Only one succession is permitted per tenancy by law and upon the death of a successor or where a non-family member requests a succession, then, Halton Housing will consider such requests under the criteria for discretionary second successions.
Succession only applies to the tenancy and not the property, and when a would be successor would result in significant over-occupation or under-occupation they may be offered suitable alternative accommodation.
In cases where there are no succession rights and there is/are remaining occupant(s), Officers from Halton Housing will deal with these in an empathic manner and offer support and advice for them to secure alternative accommodation. Whilst this is on-going, the occupier(s) will be given a temporary license agreement in their own name, for them to remain in the property for a fixed term and the original tenancy of the deceased tenant will be terminated.
Any issues regarding the preserved right to buy or rent arrears accrued by the original tenant will be considered on an individual basis, taking into account relevant legislation and case law.
Regulatory and/or Legal Compliance
Succession regulations are set out in the Housing Act 1988 for assured tenants and the Housing Act 1985 for secure tenancies.
Further requirements set out in the Tenancy Standard in the HCA’s Regulatory Framework 2012 that “Registered providers shall publish clear and accessible policies which outline their approach to tenancy management, and in particular “2.1.9 their policy on granting discretionary succession rights, taking account of the needs of vulnerable household members”.
A further change was introduced by the Localism Act 2012, which affects all tenancies granted after the 1stApril 2012.
This Policy to be reviewed in March 2021, due to Halton Housing’s changing emphasis on Shared Ownership and Rent to Buy dwellings, which, may affect succession legislation in these cases.
An Equality Impact Assessment was carried out in December 2013, which did not identify any diversity issues.
This policy relates to two strands of Our Direction, namely
- Protecting Income
- Focussing our Resources and Services