Your housing rights when someone you live with dies
When someone you live with dies, your right to stay in your home could be affected. You may be able to take over the tenancy or inherit the home.
If a tenant has died
If you live in a rented home and you had a joint tenancy, your tenancy will continue and your rights do not change. You'll become responsible for the full rent.
If you're not a joint tenant, you still might have the right to take over the tenancy.
Check if you can take over the tenancy
This is called succession, or succeeding the tenancy.
Your succession rights depend on your relationship to the person who has died and the type of tenancy they had.
the tenant was your spouse or civil partner
the tenant was your unmarried partner or another family member, and you've lived there for at least 12 months
you gave up your home to care for the tenant or someone who lived with them, and you've lived there for at least 12 months
The 12 months only starts from when you told the landlord that you had moved in.
We have further advice on succession of a Scottish secure tenancy.
If you do not have the right to take over the tenancy, you could ask the landlord to give you a new tenancy instead.
When to get advice about your succession rights
You could have problems taking over the tenancy if:
you did not tell the landlord in writing when you moved in
someone else who lives there is entitled to succeed the tenancy
you live in a specially adapted council or housing association home, and you do not need the adaptations
Your rights could also be weaker if the tenancy was already succeeded from a previous tenant who died. The rules depend on the tenancy type:
a Scottish secure tenancy can be succeeded twice
a private residential tenancy, assured tenancy or short assured tenancy can be succeeded once
Paying rent if you take over a tenancy
You’ll be responsible for paying the full amount of the rent.
If the person who died had any rent arrears, you will not be responsible for paying these unless you were a joint tenant.
If you’re worried about money, check our advice on housing costs and money help.
If the homeowner or co-owner has died
If you lived with someone in a home that they owned, your rights to the home depend on what the title deeds say and if the homeowner left a will.
If possible, do not move out of the home before getting legal advice.
Check the title deeds
The title deeds say who owns the home. If there’s a mortgage on the home, the mortgage lender will have the title deeds. You can also check title deeds on the Land Register for a small fee.
If you owned the home jointly, the title deeds may have a survivorship destination or survivorship clause. This means that you’ll automatically inherit the other person’s share of the property, and you'll have full rights to stay in the home.
If there's no survivorship destination, or if your name is not on the title deeds, your rights depend on what the owner wrote in their will.
Check the will
If the person left a will, it should say whether the home, or their share of the home, has been left to you.
If you were married or in a civil partnership, you could be entitled to a share of the home even if it’s not been left to you in the will.
If the person did not leave a will
When someone does not leave a will, this is called intestacy.
If you were married or in a civil partnership, you’ll usually automatically have a right to inherit some or all of the home, depending on the value.
If you were living with your partner, but you were not married or in a civil partnership, you can apply to a court to get a share of the home. You must do this within 6 months of your partner’s death. You'll need a solicitor's help.
Problems with inheritance
Inheritance can be complicated, especially if there are other family members involved. Even if you've inherited a share of the home, you may not have the right to keep living there.
Get legal advice as soon as possible if you're unsure about your rights.
Get help with bereavement
The Scottish Government has advice on organisations and websites that can help with:
Last updated: 31 January 2024