Life Enjoyment of Property

11.5.20 Updated on:4 November 2021

Rights of person with life enjoyment, the Usufructier

Individuals inheriting life-enjoyment of property may prefer to rent out the property and not live in it. The lease or agreement should carry a safeguard for the tenant to protect their interests when the property reverts to the residual legatees who inherits.

Residual legatees are responsible for structural maintenance of property. The residual legatee is the owner in waiting and as such has a right to ensure that the property is being kept in good order by inspection or survey. Reasonable access should therefore be given by any tenant or occupier with life enjoyment.

The tenant or occupier with life enjoyment will normally have the usual responsibility for maintaining the property in a good state of general repair and decorative order, unless there are special conditions.

Sale of the property

The Residual legatees are entitled to sell the property subject to the occupier’s life enjoyment, i.e. the new owner could not evict the occupant and must wait until the occupant dies, moves out or remarries in some circumstances, before occupying or letting the property. The residual legatees may not introduce a servitude with the sale, but one may come into effect after the end of the life enjoyment. A servitude in this instance could be a right of way over the property or a right to use of a well or septic tank etc.

Whilst a sale is being negotiated, the tenant or occupier with the life enjoyment must offer reasonable access for viewing by prospective purchasers or surveyors.