This section is from the book "Real Property, An Introductory Explanation Of The Law Relating To Land", by Alfred F Topham. Also available from Amazon: The New Law Of Property.
Leaseholds being personal property have always vested in the personal representatives on the death of the lessee. They are freely transferable by will, but if the tenant dies intestate, his interest in the lease passes to his personal representatives in trust for his next of kin.
The personal representatives are bound by the covenants in the lease, but they can in most cases get rid of their liability to perform the covenants by assigning the lease, as follows (p ): -
(1) If the deceased tenant was an assignee of the lease his personal representatives can get rid of their liability by assigning the lease even to a pauper.
(2) If the deceased tenant was the original lessee, his personal representatives remain liable even after they have assigned the lease. But this liability may be modified as follows: -
(a) In case of the covenant to pay rent, the personal representatives are not liable for more than the value of the assets of the deceased.
(b) In case of covenants to repair and similar covenants, the representatives are liable if they have taken possession of the land, even if there are no assets; but by an act of 1859 (q) if the representatives -
(i.) Satisfy all existing claims.
(ii.) Set aside a sufficient sum to meet ascertained future liabilities.
(p) See Woodfall Landlord and Tenant, 17th Edu., pp. 334-329. (q) 22 & 23 Vict. c. 35, s. 27.
and (iii.) assign the lease to a purchaser, they are freed from liability.
If, however, a purchaser cannot be found, there seems no way of destroying their liability.