What to do after the death of a council tenant who lived alone

This information relates to what happens when a council tenant who was living alone dies.

Ending the tenancy and rent payments

The tenancy does not end when the tenant dies, and the only people who can end it are:

  • an executor – this is the person, named in the will, who will deal with the possessions of the person who has died
  • an administrator – this person has applied to the Probate Registry and obtained letters of administration (or the grant of probate)
  • Royal Borough of Greenwich.

A next of kin, who is not the executor or administrator, cannot end the tenancy.

What the Royal Borough of Greenwich will do 

If there is no executor or administrator, by law the Royal Borough of Greenwich must serve a 'notice to quit' on the public trustee. (Tenancies are transferred temporarily to this public office if a tenant dies without a will, or with a will but without an executor.)

The tenancy will end four weeks after this is served. Rent will be charged during this time. We may also contact the Financial Protection and Appointee team, if they have had previous involvement.

Any charges will be made against the estate once the tenancy is ended.

Four weeks after the account was closed, a closing statement of the rent account will be sent to the executor, administrator or next of kin.

If the person who has died was receiving Housing Benefit, the payment of benefit stops at the date of death, and therefore will not cover any charges after this date.

Access to the property and clearance

If the executor, administrator or any other individual already has keys, the Royal Borough will not provide access to the property. However, if no-one has keys to the property, we can only give keys to the person who is the executor or administrator.

Once a disclaimer form is signed and keys returned, the Royal Borough of Greenwich will dispose of any goods not required. We reserve the right to charge this back to the estate.

Further information

For more information please contact Tenancy Services, using the contact details shown, or visit The Woolwich Centre or Eltham Centre.