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Bill for late brother's rent debts

PUBLISHED: 16:36 26 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:03 11 August 2010

A GRIEVING woman was ordered to pay her dead brother s rent for the time she spent cleaning and emptying it. Janet Foster, 57, of Lodge Avenue, Dagenham, was ordered to pay £527.68 of her brother s council rent arrears after he died in January. She said:

A GRIEVING woman was ordered to pay her dead brother's rent for the time she spent cleaning and emptying it.

Janet Foster, 57, of Lodge Avenue, Dagenham, was ordered to pay £527.68 of her brother's council rent arrears after he died in January.

She said: "I'm on benefits. I'm in a position where I can't pay rent but I'm supposed to pay someone else's."

Colin Stone was 48 when he collapsed on his bike on his way to work on January 19.

Ms Foster said she then cleaned his house, packed her brother's belongings and returned the keys to the council on January 30.

On March 2, she received a council letter demanding her to pay her brother's council rent 'debt' of £527.68 up to February 30, despite having handed the keys in a month earlier.

When Ms Foster pointed out the mistake the amount was reduced to £67 which included the eleven days after Mr Stone's death up to the changeover of the keys.

She said: "What if someone who is grieving can't be bothered and pays everything?

"We refused to accept it because we can't afford it."

Ms Foster's sister, Alicia Tapson, 43, said: "Do people realise that if they live in Barking and Dagenham council property, they will have to give a week's notice before they die?"

"We were told whoever took his keys was liable for the debts and the premises.

"I think it's an important piece of information for people: it doesn't matter what your circumstances are."

A council spokesperson said: "Firstly we would like to extend our sympathies to Ms Stone's family for their loss.

"It is normal procedure to charge rent until the time the keys are returned. The executor is responsible for the rent, giving notice and terminating the tenancy, not the person who holds the keys.

"Unfortunately Ms Foster's entitlement to housing benefit does not mean she is exempt as the benefit is paid to her based on her home and not that of her brother.


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