This information should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice. Read the disclaimer.

This question usually arises when a tenant realises that a close relative who lives with them, eg son or daughter, will not automatically be entitled to take over the tenancy on their death.

Secure council and housing association tenants

Secure tenants don’t have a statutory right to add people to their tenancy agreements.

They may have a right to assign the tenancy to someone who would inherit it on their death. There are a limited number of circumstances in which someone can claim a statutory right to inherit (succeed to) a council tenancy. There can be only one statutory succession – more detail is provided in Succession rights and social housing (England).

Some tenancy agreements give a contractual right of assignment to people not covered by the statutory provisions, so it’s always worth checking what the agreement says.

Assignment involves tenancy rights and responsibilities passing from the original tenant to the new tenant – it doesn’t involve the creation of a joint tenancy.

If the original tenant plans to remain in the property, they should seek professional legal advice on the implications of assignment.

Assured housing association tenants

These tenants have no statutory right to add people to their tenancy agreements.

Any right to assign the tenancy will depend on what the tenancy agreement says. Most housing association tenancy agreements require tenants to get the landlord’s permission to an assignment. Where this applies, the landlord should not unreasonably refuse consent.

Why are there restrictions on adding people to tenancy agreements?

Social housing stock is allocated based on assessed need. An unlimited right for sitting tenants to assign or add people to tenancy agreements, or for their relatives to succeed to these tenancies, could undermine landlords’ allocation policies and their ability to fulfil statutory duties to homeless households.