If a joint tenant dies, the remaining joint tenant(s) are entitled to remain in the property (having a right of survivorship). They become liable for the rent.
If a sole tenant dies, the right to succeed to the tenancy will depend on whether the tenant had a fixed-term or periodic tenancy.
For fixed-term tenancies where the term has not expired, the position is, in theory, that the executors will arrange for the tenancy to be passed on to the person to whom it is left in the will (or whoever inherits it under the intestacy rules if there is no will). In practice, the executors will usually agree to surrender the property, and the landlord will agree to seek another tenant.
If a periodic tenancy, the tenant’s spouse or a person who lived with the tenant as husband or wife, has an automatic right to succeed to a periodic assured tenancy unless the tenant who died had already succeeded to the tenancy. Only one succession is allowed. No one else in the family has an automatic right to succession (section 17 Housing Act 1988).
In a periodic assured tenancy, if someone is living in the property who does not have a right to succeed to the tenancy, the landlord can claim repossession under Ground 7, provided the proceedings for recovery of possession are commenced within a year of the death of the original tenant.
In a shorthold tenancy, the landlord is entitled to repossess the property at the end of any fixed term, or at the end of a period of a periodic tenancy, even if the tenant is entitled to succeed provided that the landlord gives the proper form of two months’ notice under section 21.