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Debbie Merchant, from Maidstone, angry at housing association's rent charge after father's death

By Lynn Cox

A woman has hit out at a housing association which is charging her at least four weeks worth of rent after her father died.

Debbie Merchant has described West Kent Housing Association as “uncaring and disgusting” after putting a letter through her late father’s door telling her she was liable to pay the rent after his death, despite his benefit being stopped on the day he died.

Her dad, Ronald Clarke, 89, passed away at the beginning of February.

Ronald Clarke
Ronald Clarke

Mrs Merchant found the letter when she went to clear out his former home, a sheltered housing complex at Montgomery Court in Wainscott, managed by the housing association.

West Kent Housing Association says it is clear in tenancy agreements that four weeks’ notice is required.

But Mrs Merchant, who lives in Sandling, Maidstone, was appalled by the lack of empathy in their correspondence with her.

She said: “I think it’s uncaring during a time when someone is grieving.

“There was only one line in the letter saying sorry my father has passed away.

“The rest of it was about how much I have to pay and how I have to leave the place in the condition it was rented out to dad.

"I think it’s uncaring during a time when someone is grieving" - Debbie Merchant

“I think it’s disgusting, there was no compassion.”

Mr Clarke’s account was in more than £450 of credit at the time he died.

The housing association took the money for a further two weeks rent, after the pensioner had passed away.

But Mrs Merchant might still have to pay more as she didn’t hand in her notice immediately after her dad died.

In a statement, Sandra Thompson, from West Kent Housing Association, said: “Our tenancy agreements are clear that four weeks’ notice to end the tenancy is required and we charge rent and services charges for this period; as a social landlord we have a responsibility to recover monies owed to us.

“However, we do consider each case individually and would encourage relatives to speak with us if they have concerns about the notice period as we are able to show flexibility in certain circumstances.”

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