When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Passing on your tenancy

Some Housing Executive and housing association tenants can pass their tenancies on. There are 2 ways this can happen:

  1. assignment - your tenancy passes to someone while you are alive
  2. succession - your tenancy passes to someone after you die.

Assignment and succession are legal rights. They only apply in certain cases. You must follow the proper process if you want to pass on a tenancy.

Passing the tenancy on while alive

A court can "assign" a tenancy into your name as part of divorce or separation proceedings. Your solicitor can help with this.

Your landlord can also assign the tenancy if you have swapped your tenancy with another tenant. You must get permission for a swap and sign for your new tenancy before you move.  

Your landlord may be able to "assign" or give your tenancy to someone else. This will only happen for certain reasons, such as:

  • you can no longer act as the tenant because of an impairment or disease, OR
  • you have left the property and someone else has moved into it to care for your children, OR
  • you have to move into supported or sheltered housing and someone who has been living with you wants to stay in the property, OR
  • you have to move into residential care but someone who has been living with you wants to stay in the property. 

There are extra conditions that apply to each of these cases. Get advice if you want to know more about passing your tenancy on. 

Passing a tenancy on after a death

A tenancy can be passed on after the tenant dies. This can usually only happen once. The tenancy can be passed to

  • the tenant's spouse or civil partner if they lived at the address, or
  • the tenant's family member if they lived at the address with the tenant for at least 12 months, or
  • a person who has moved in to take over the care of the tenant's dependent children, or
  • a person who gave up their own tenancy to care for the tenant at the address.

Get advice if you think you have a right to inherit the tenancy of the property you are living in. 

What can you do if your landlord refuses to pass your tenancy on?

You can only pass on a tenancy in certain circumstances, and a tenancy can usually only be passed on once. 

Ask for a written explanation if your landlord says you have no right to inherit a tenancy. Contact an advice agency like Housing Rights once you have this explanation. We may be able to challenge the decision. 

Can you stay at a property if the landlord has refused to assign or succeed the tenancy?

Get advice if you want to stay in the property but the landlord has said you cannot. You do not have a legal right to the property if you are not the tenant and you could be evicted.

If you are swapping your tenancy with someone else, you cannot move to the new address until you have signed your new tenancy agreement. If you swap homes without your landlord's written permission and a proper tenancy agreement, you will have to go back to your old tenancy.  

Can private tenants pass on their tenancy?

Most private tenants do not have a legal right to pass on their tenancy. You can ask your landlord, but they do not have to agree. 

If you are a protected tenant, you may have a right to pass on your tenancy. These tenancies are rare and complicated. You may be a protected tenant if you've been renting the same private property since at least March 2007. 

Get advice if you think you may be a protected tenant.