Death of a tenant

This page provides information about what to do in the case of the death of a council tenant.

On this page:

What to do if a council tenant dies

If a council tenant dies, you should tell us about the death as soon as possible using the online Tell Us Once service to inform most government – and local government – services of a death in one go.

You will be given a reference number by the registrar when you register the death. You will need this number to sign up for the service. If you want to use the service but don’t want to sign up online, you can call the Department for Work and Pensions on 0800 085 7308 and speak to a Tell Us Once adviser.

If no one else lives at the property

If a council tenant dies and no one else is living in the property, we will serve a notice to quit to the property addressed to the personal representative of the deceased. The notice will expire 4 weeks after it is served. The personal representatives or next of kin will have this time to clean and clear the property in preparation for the keys to be returned to the Civic Offices. The keys need to be returned to us on or before the date the notice to quit expires. Upon advising the council of the death, we will be happy to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have and we will inform you of the date the notice expires by post.

Please be advised if the notice to quit expires and we have not received the keys to the property, then we have the legal right to gain possession of the property and dispose of all belongings inside. If the keys are returned by the next of kin or personal representative, please note that until the tenancy is formally ended and all keys have been returned, rent in full will be charged in addition to any costs for repair that may be necessary. This will be payable from the deceased estate.

If in payment, Housing Benefit will end on the date of death. Once again rent in full will continue to be charged until the tenancy is formally ended and all keys have been returned.

If a sole council tenant dies and someone is living in the property

We will need the main contact of the person that remains living in the property to contact our call centre on 0118 937 2161 and arrange for a call back from a member of the Housing and Estates Team. An Officer will then call you back within 5 working days to complete an initial application and an appointment will be arranged to come and meet you at the property where they will discuss whether there are any succession rights.

If there is someone living in the property, we may still have to serve a valid notice on the property as per legal requirements.

What we will need

We will need the following information and documents:

  • details of the tenant’s next of kin (closest relative)
  • your address and contact details, or the details of the person dealing with the deceased affairs if this is not you

Returning keys to the council

Please ensure that all keys are returned to the Civic Offices reception on or before the date the notice ends where you will also receive a receipt.

Voids and lettings
Reading Borough Council
Civic Offices
Bridge Street

Clearing the property

Those dealing with the estate would be expected to clear the property of all furniture and personal belongings before returning the keys. Any items left in the property or any repairs that need to be done will be done by Reading Borough Council, once empty, and will be chargeable to the estate.

Please remember to:

  • clear all personal items from the loft, outbuildings and property including all carpets
  • leave a plug and chain for each sink, wash hand basin and bath
  • ensure sinks, wash hand basins, baths, shower trays, and toilet pans are clean and in sanitary condition
  • ensure electric sockets and light fittings are in a good working order and not dangerous to use
  • reinstate standard fitments if fittings are removed
  • clean each room once it has been cleared and made good
  • tidy and cut back gardens and lawns
  • redirect the post
  • take Gas and Electric readings, inform the utility company as soon as possible, and keep details until final bills are paid

Rent accounts

The executor, administrator, or family members are not responsible for rent payment. However, until the tenancy is formally ended and the keys have been returned a charge will be made on the rent account. We will expect this to be paid along with any arrears from the deceased tenant’s estate.

If the deceased was getting Housing Benefit, payments will stop the Sunday following the date of death, and therefore won’t cover the charges between this date and the tenancy ending. To avoid additional costs to the estate it is advised that the keys are returned as soon as possible.

Last updated on 30/05/2024