What if you inherit a house someone is living in?

What can you do if the house you’ve inherited has someone living in it?

Contentious probate lawyer, Naomi Ireson, looks at a question that is often asked by beneficiaries, ‘What if you inherit a house someone is living in?’ For expert advice on this issue call our free legal helpline on 0333 888 0407 or send us an email.

It is not uncommon for beneficiaries to inherit a property under a will which they are unable to access because someone is living in it.

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 wants to keep it while 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 rent to be paid 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 usually assessed on a market rate basis though if the party has legal rights in relation to the property then that will be 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. If there is a trust it is important to consider 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 young children. Courts have the power to order the sale of part of the land if 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 the estate of a deceased person.

For further information about what happens if you inherit a house someone is living in contact our free helpline on 0333 888 0407 or send an email to us at [email protected]


What if you inherit a house someone is living in?