What happens if you inherit a house and someone is living in it?

Inheritance lawyer, Naomi Ireson, looks at what happens if you inherit a house and someone is living in it.

We are often contacted by beneficiaries who inherit a property, or a share of the net proceeds of sale, under a will but are yet to receive their inheritance because someone is living there.

The law can be very complex, especially if there is a trust in existence or a formal tenancy exists. A common complicating factor is where the person living in the property is a joint beneficiary under the will. Beneficiaries often end up in dispute when they inherit a house and one want to keep it and the other wants to sell. We would therefore always recommend that people seek specialist legal advice on the specific circumstances involved.

If amicable arrangements cannot be made for the property to be vacated then consideration needs to be given to applying to the court for possession or an order for sale. A claim can also be made for a form of rent to be made in the meantime, known as occupation rent.

Occupation Rent

Claims for 'occupation rent' can be made against someone who remains living in a property. The value of the rent is not necessarily assessed on a market rate basis though, as the party often has a right to occupy the property and that is taken into account. 

Order for Sale

Before considering an application for an order for sale, it is essential to consider the purpose of the occupation and the purpose of any trust. It there is a trust it is important to ask yourself whether the purpose of the trust has come to an end?

The Court is likely to order sale, possibly deferred, unless it is a domestic property required for the benefit of minor children. Courts have the power to order the sale of part of the land it this is feasible. It is also possible for one party to buy the other out.

These applications can be pursued by cohabiting partners or against an estate of the deceased person. 

For further information about what happens if you inherit a house and someone is living in it contact our free helpline on 0808 139 1599 or send an email to us at info@inheritancedisputes.co.uk