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Death of landlord

 

judithd
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Afternoon all - does anyone have a view on this, I’m going round in circles (not helped by a lack of information from the client).
Client rents a property from landlord, landlord dies.  HB paid direct to landlord.
Local authority find out about the death some time later (not from client).
They ask for details of the new landlord, client informs them she doesn’t know and will let them know when she knows.
2 months later the Local authority make the decision to end the HB as they have not had any information from client.  It’s not clear whether an overpayment decision was made at this point but an overpayment decision was made.
Some months later the Local authority make another decision to end the HB from an earlier date than before.
This prompts the client to make a revision request, the revision request was partially successful.

Sorry this is very vague but my question is really - it feels like the tenancy doesn’t end when the landlord dies (no knowledge of Housing Law ??) does it continue?
If it continues then is there a rent liability?  Does anyone have a view?

The other stuff I can deal with - the shambolic decision making and the lack of client engagement but I’m not clear on the central issue of tenancy and liability.

(There is now a firm of solicitors dealing with the probate for the property - I have no information about what contact they have had with the client.)

     
past caring
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So if I owe someone some money and they die I no longer have to pay it? Their estate has no claim on the money?

Alternatively, assume I own a property which I let out. I own this entirely in my own right and as a separate asset to those that I own jointly with my partner. So whilst I live, the tenant’s liability to pay rent is to me alone, not to my partner. Nevertheless, I have a will in which I leave all of my assets to my partner.

I die. Does my tenant no longer have a liability to pay rent? Alternatively, can my partner summarily evict the tenant on the basis that the tenancy agreement was with me, not with her?

I can see how the waters are muddied because it’s not clear who the tenant has a rental liability to. But if the landlord’s death doesn’t extinguish the tenancy then the liability to pay rent isn’t extinguished either. There’s a liability to the landlord’s estate, at a minimum.

     
Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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No expert on housing and my housing colleague is out of the office but this suggests a tenancy continues after the death of a landlord.

http://www.tenantstips.co.uk/Home/Tenancy-Help/Tenants-Rights/What-happens-if-my-Landlord-Dies#.WKXeNbkutWw

     
Brian Fletcher
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There are a couple of possibilities.

When someone dies, their estate vests in their executor if they left a will, or the personal representative if they die intestate. The tenancy doesn’t die with the landlord, and they will be the person(s) who is/are the landlord until they distribute the assets of the estate.
Whoever they are, they will need to obtain a grant of probate or grant letters of administration before they can really do anything and that could be a lengthy process

Alternatively, there may have be a joint tenancy where the landlord held the property with another person or persons. If this is the case, the joint tenant(s) would take the property under survivorship rules, and they would be the landlord(s) without the need for any further action.
You can pull the registered title off the Land Registry portal for £3 which may shed some light on that

Whatever the situation, the lease gives a tenant a right to the property which doesn’t end because the landlord dies. If the HB was being paid directly to the deceased landlords bank account, there isn’t any reason to stop paying it because it’s still due

     
John Birks
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I’ve seen the issue of serving notices to an address in E & W - if the LL was the named person and their address was that to which said notices were served (Sec 48 LTA) then this would/could be the problem for HB.

Liability wouldn’t end but payments would have to be suspended pending notification of assignment(?) of the tenancy to an agent(?) new LL(?.)

     
Brian Fletcher
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John Birks - 17 February 2017 09:26 AM

I’ve seen the issue of serving notices to an address in E & W - if the LL was the named person and their address was that to which said notices were served (Sec 48 LTA) then this would/could be the problem for HB.

Liability wouldn’t end but payments would have to be suspended pending notification of assignment(?) of the tenancy to an agent(?) new LL(?.)

The tenant already has a lease which must indicate the address for service of notice, and that address remains valid because the estate of the LL vests in the PR/Executor as trustee of the estate. (s.1 Administration of Estates Act 1925)

 

 

 

     
MartinB
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The Homeless prevention approach….....

Contact the solicitor…with client present.
Get confirmation of the solictors intentions.
Make it clear your client is prepared to pay rent, but is reliant on HB and get confirmation of any rental liability from them. 
Advise HB whatever your told…. and provide any “proof” of any ongoing rental liability. 

If the solicitor advises that they will be serving notice and/or refusing rent, etc get her proper housing advice, but always make it clear she is prepared to pay rent, but is dependent on HB. If your client has a priorirty need eg dependent children, otherwise vulnerable….  advise of her right to make a homeleness appl etc if served notice.

She might need to show the efforts she has made to pay, to avoid being deemed “intentional”.......so all your efforts will hopefully evidence this….

 

 

     
John Birks
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Brian Fletcher - 17 February 2017 10:19 AM
John Birks - 17 February 2017 09:26 AM

I’ve seen the issue of serving notices to an address in E & W - if the LL was the named person and their address was that to which said notices were served (Sec 48 LTA) then this would/could be the problem for HB.

Liability wouldn’t end but payments would have to be suspended pending notification of assignment(?) of the tenancy to an agent(?) new LL(?.)

The tenant already has a lease which must indicate the address for service of notice, and that address remains valid because the estate of the LL vests in the PR/Executor as trustee of the estate. (s.1 Administration of Estates Act 1925)

 

 

Whom may not be known to the LA from the info in the OP.

     
Brian Fletcher
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John Birks - 17 February 2017 01:33 PM
Brian Fletcher - 17 February 2017 10:19 AM
John Birks - 17 February 2017 09:26 AM

I’ve seen the issue of serving notices to an address in E & W - if the LL was the named person and their address was that to which said notices were served (Sec 48 LTA) then this would/could be the problem for HB.

Liability wouldn’t end but payments would have to be suspended pending notification of assignment(?) of the tenancy to an agent(?) new LL(?.)

The tenant already has a lease which must indicate the address for service of notice, and that address remains valid because the estate of the LL vests in the PR/Executor as trustee of the estate. (s.1 Administration of Estates Act 1925)

Whom may not be known to the LA from the info in the OP.

 

True, but not quite the point I was making.

There is no need to suspend payment pending assignment of the lease, because all the rights and obligations attached to the property pass through the operation of law to the PR.

Based on the OP, in that the HB was being paid directly to the LL (and presumably directly to his bank account), and for some time after he died, there would be no reason to suspend or stop that, because the liability to pay rent to the estate still exists regardless of whether or not you can identify who the PR is.

The lease and the liability hasn’t simply evaporated because the LL has died, and the tenant is the Claimant entitled to the benefit where the liability exists

 

 

     
past caring
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Like wot I sed.

     
Brian Fletcher
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past caring - 17 February 2017 03:17 PM

Like wot I sed.

;-) yep.

We fancied a walk round the park first though before we get back to the beginning

     
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: - )

     
judithd
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Thank you all, very helpful.  I think I got sidestepped by assuming the Local Authority stopping the Housing benefit was correct - I should know better!

     
stevenmcavoy
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can hb not suspend payment until such time as someone writes to the client saying “wheres my rent money”?

     
ClairemHodgson
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stevenmcavoy - 20 February 2017 03:48 PM

can hb not suspend payment until such time as someone writes to the client saying “wheres my rent money”?

why should they be allowed to?  client has a tenancy agreement under which rent is payable.  death of landlord merely passes the tenancy to his PRs, it doesn’t cancel the tenancy agreement.  client liable to be evicted by PR’s if rent not paid.  and why should tenant be put through the grief of trying to get HB back in payment, especially for backdated period, when it shouldn’t have been stopped in the first place?

imagine, for instance, it was a corporate landlord that went into administration/liquidation.  rent would still be payable - and the administrators/liquidators would ahve been all over the tenant like a rash if rent not paid.  it’s the same thing, more or less, since administration - especially when it turns into liquidation - is the death throes of a corporate landlord.

     
stevenmcavoy
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ClairemHodgson - 21 February 2017 09:24 AM
stevenmcavoy - 20 February 2017 03:48 PM

can hb not suspend payment until such time as someone writes to the client saying “wheres my rent money”?

why should they be allowed to?  client has a tenancy agreement under which rent is payable.  death of landlord merely passes the tenancy to his PRs, it doesn’t cancel the tenancy agreement.  client liable to be evicted by PR’s if rent not paid.  and why should tenant be put through the grief of trying to get HB back in payment, especially for backdated period, when it shouldn’t have been stopped in the first place?

imagine, for instance, it was a corporate landlord that went into administration/liquidation.  rent would still be payable - and the administrators/liquidators would ahve been all over the tenant like a rash if rent not paid.  it’s the same thing, more or less, since administration - especially when it turns into liquidation - is the death throes of a corporate landlord.

I agree with that but i can see why the local authority have an issue in the interim when they dont actually know who the “landlord” is.

in a liquidation scenario its clearly the administrators that take on that role.  in the death of a person it would be the executor (up here anyway).

but my reading of this is we dont know who is actually in that role at present.