The Rent Act 1977 (as amended by the Housing Act 1988) was introduced as an instrument to protect residential Tenants by firstly, ensuring that Landlords cannot charge unfair rents, and secondly, providing them the right to occupation after the contract term had ended. This has consequently resulted in many Landlords having long standing Tenants in their Properties with no swift way of ending the Tenancy.


Whilst the Rent Act 1977 does offer protection to the Tenants, this protection only lasts for a certain period of time. Under the Rent Act 1977 once the original Tenant of the Lease dies, the tenancy will automatically pass to a family member who was living with the original Tenant. This person is known as the first successor. The first successor must have been living with the original Tenant continuously for a period of two years prior to their death. If the first successor is a spouse or cohabitee of the original Tenant, they will inherit the protected Tenancy. If, however, the family member is not a spouse or cohabitee, they are still able to be a first successor, but they will be granted an assured tenancy as opposed to the protected tenancy.


The Rent Act 1977 further provides for a second successor following the death of the first successor. As with the first successor, the second successor must have been continuously living in the Property with the first successor for a period of two years prior to their death. The second successor must be a member of the family of both the original tenant and the first successor. However, the difference is that the second successor will only be granted an assured tenancy as opposed to the protected tenancy. Consequently, this is the point at which the protected tenancy ends.


The key component to note in circumstances where the original Tenant dies is that the successors must have been living with the original Tenant or first successor for a period of two years before their death. If they do not satisfy this rule, they cannot be granted the Tenancy, whether that be a protected one or assured one, and the Tenancy would end at that point. Due to the Rent Act 1977 being assented into English Law 45 years ago, it is highly likely that many Landlords shall be at a point where there has been a first succession and potentially second, and will be at a point where the protected Tenancy over their Property will end.