Did you know if your tenant dies, you may not be able to automatically repossess your property?

Many landlords are under the impression that if a property is rented to a sole tenant, they can automatically repossess the property if that tenant dies. This is, however, not the case if the tenant dies without leaving a Will, or with a Will but without an Executor.

So, if you are a landlord, be aware that in such instances you may be breaking the law if you try to repossess the property without giving statutory notice to quit. This is even the case if the tenancy was due to end. If you try to repossess the property without following the rules, you could find yourself facing a fine.

The notice procedure should begin with you posting or delivering a letter to the tenant’s last known address (usually the rental property), saying you are giving them written notice. You should address the written notice to “The Personal Representative of (full name of the tenant who died) of (last known address for the tenant who died).

A copy of the notice should then be emailed or posted, along with a completed NL1 form and appropriate application fee, to the Public Trustee. Note: the payment can only be made by BACS transfer. The Public Trustee will then either register or reject the notice.

If the notice is registered, you will be informed of the registration date. To ensure you can legally rent out the property again or sell it, you should check that the tenancy has been ended. You can do this by doing a search of the Law of Property database.

If it the case that the tenant owed rent at the time of their death, any arrears would normally pass to their estate and the landlord would be able to claim for them from the tenant’s executor. However, if the tenant dies intestate (without a Will), then a claim should be made to the Public Trustee until the grant of administration, whence the claim should be made to the appointed administrator of the estate.

Landlord legislation in Wales changed dramatically on 1 December 2022. It is therefore essential that any landlord renting out property in Wales is fully aware of the requirements for staying compliant. If you are unsure about yours and/or your tenants’ rights it is advisable to seek advice from a solicitor.