Stevenage Borough Council apologises to family after demanding rent from dead mother


- Credit: Archant

The family of a dead woman have been left distraught after she received council letters demanding rent money.

Now Stevenage Borough Council has apologised for the boob, and has changed its processes to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Roger Thorpe, of Haddon Close in Stevenage, says he made every effort to inform all the relevant authorities following the death of his mother-in-law Josephina Webb, who passed away in May.

Since then two letters from Stevenage Borough Council have been sent to the council-owned home she was living in demanding rent, the latest dated July 15.

Mr Thorpe has criticised the language used in the letters, specifically the phrases ‘I am writing to you because you owe us’ and ‘Your rent is due every week’ – which is highlighted in bold.

Mrs Webb died at home aged 81, following a fall.

Mr Thorpe said: “I contacted the council on the day she died and, as requested, visited their customer services centre with a copy of her death certificate.

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“My wife also completed a form to give the required notice on her mother’s tenancy and identified herself as being responsible for any future correspondence.

“The man with whom we spoke assured us all areas of the council would be informed.

“We are both offended and extremely upset by this letter, by the fact it is addressed personally to my late mother-in-law, by the demanding tone of the language, and by the incorrect information in the letter.

“I hope the council will be able to prevent a similar situation arising for another grieving family.”

Councillor Ann Webb, who represents the council on housing issues, said: “Once our housing officers have received notification of a death, we update our records and add details of the next of kin.

“In the case of Mr Thorpe’s mother-in-law, when the computer-generated letter was sent out, the letter was, regrettably, addressed to the deceased, with the next of kin details underneath.

“Understandably the letter has caused upset to the family and we have contacted Mr Thorpe to apologise for any offence caused.

“We have changed our processes to ensure that once we receive notification of a death, the account will be put on hold so rent arrear letters are not generated, and that further upset is not caused to grieving families.”