Succession Rights – I am considering buying a flat with a senior sitting (Regulated) tenant. I have been told that if the tenant were to get married again she would have a right to succeed his tenancy – is this correct?
Properties with Regulated Tenancies (RTs), which are those created pre 15 January 1989 under the 1977 Rent Act, are a regular feature at property auctions as reversionary investments.
This means that an investor prepared to take the risk, and a long term view, can often buy these properties well below vacant possession market value (sometimes up to 50% below). This is due to the controlled rent, often a rundown state, and the uncertainty of the timing of the end of the tenancy – which usually occurs when the tenant dies.
Further uncertainty is introduced by the possibility of succession.
On the death of a Regulated Tenant co-habitants like spouses and civil partners can succeed to the existing tenancy, or in the absence of these, a family relative who has lived with the tenant for at least 2 years can succeed.
In the case of relatives, and where the spouse or civil partner succession is a 2nd succession, the tenancy will switch from being a Regulated Tenancy under the 1977 Housing Act to an Assured Tenancy (AT) under the 1988 Housing Act.
On the death of a successor spouse or civil partner a family member (of both the original tenant and the successor) who resided at the time of the successor’s death, and for two years before, is entitled to a second succession to an Assured Tenancy (AT).
The significance of that is, although an Assured Tenancy (AT), as opposed to an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), gives the tenants full security of tenure, similar to that of the RT, the landlord can now charge a full market rent.
On the death of a Regulated Tenant, and where there is no obvious successor to take over the tenancy, it is important that the tenancy is ended formally by means of a deed of surrender. This means the landlord can safely either sell with vacant possession, or re-let under a new tenancy (AT or AST).
The estate of the deceased is responsible for paying rent until the tenancy is formerly ended, therefore quite large rent arrears can accrue to any surviving family members if this is not done properly.
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