Bristol council demanded rent from man in care home

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Bristol City Council chambers
Image caption,
Bristol City Council was ordered to pay the man's executors £1,974

A man who moved into a care home was charged rent on his former council house for 16 months until his death, a watchdog has found.

Bristol City Council, which was also receiving fees from the man for his residential care, failed to notice the error even when he died, and repeatedly demanded rent arrears from his estate.

The authority should have cancelled the tenancy when the man went into care.

The blunder has cost the council, which admitted blame, almost £2,000.

A ruling by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said the council admitted failing to terminate the man's tenancy at his former home when he moved in to residential care in May, 2016, so mistakenly charged him for both.

The report said: "The council has acknowledged that it shouldn't have done this.

"The council has agreed to pay the additional fees incurred by the estate in corresponding with it on this issue. The council has also reviewed its processes."

The ombudsman said the authority wrote to the solicitors, who were appointed in the man's will after he died in September 2017, to say rent arrears would continue to accrue.

In its report, the ombudsman said: "The solicitors told the council it had effectively charged for care and rent and it should have applied for deputyship so that the council could have ended Mr D's tenancy, as Mr D was not able to do this himself.

"It made a formal complaint and said that the council should not charge both care fees and rent when Mr D could not live at the council property."

Bristol City Council admitted it had intended to apply to the Court of Protection for a deputy to be appointed to handle the man's finances shortly after he was moved into care but "a backlog and an internal reorganisation meant that the council did not do this".

Bristol City Council was ordered to pay the executors £1,645 plus VAT, bringing the total to £1,974.

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