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Securing entitlement to succeed to a tenancy when a partner dies

Rajea Sultana ensured that a recently bereaved lady was able to stay in housing association accommodation which had been in the name of her deceased partner, by showing that she had lived with her partner as his wife and occupied the property as her only or principal home immediately before his death. She was therefore entitled to succeeded to her partners’ assured tenancy under section 17 of the Housing Act 1988.


In 1996, LL started a relationship with a gentleman who held a weekly assured tenancy in Poplar and she moved in with him in 2001.

In February 2016 her partner passed away and the following month LL applied to the housing association to remain in their home and to take on her partner’s tenancy agreement.

Poplar HARCA did not accept that she was entitled to succeed the tenancy, and delivered to LL a notice to quit the property and subsequently issued a possession claim on the basis that the notice to quit, following the death of the previous tenant, had expired.

The Miles & Partners housing team advised LL that, upon the death of her partner, she had succeeded to his assured tenancy under section 17 Housing Act 1988 having lived with her partner “as his wife” and occupied the property as her only or principal home immediately before his death. On that basis, any notice to quit was of no effect.

Poplar HARCA argued that LL never really lived with her partner in Poplar and that it had never been her only or principal home, claiming that she resided at a flat in Romford. On that basis the notice to quit would have been a valid means to terminate the tenancy.

The decision of the court

This case was heard before DDJ Chambers on 29 June 2017, Rajea Sultana represented LL in respect of a claim for possession of her home made by the housing association Poplar HARCA.

The judge dismissed the case and allowed LL to stay in her home in Poplar.

The Judge stated in his judgment that at the point LL decided to move in with her partner it is quite possible that she had some intention of returning to her address in Romford however this had withered away during the next 7 years.

It was found that there is a lot of weight in the point made by Poplar HARCA that the paper trail showed LL to be living in Romford. However, the judge took into account various considerations which included the address registered with LL’s bank accounts, benefits, IVA, electoral role and also the payment of council tax and bills.

The judge was also took into account the evidence given by witnesses who said they had seen LL and her partner together. Considering this, the judge was of the view that it seemed clear LL was living at the property and had made the public commitment to her partner as his wife. For example, cards from the neighbours were addressed to them as a couple.

The judge held that there is a succession of tenancy. This is because LL and her partner lived as husband and wife and LL occupied the property as her only or principal home. Therefore, the notice to quit was of no effect.

For more information on housing law problems, please contact Rajea Sultana 020 7426 0400 or email

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

Rajea Sultana


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