Family given 24 hours to clear out dead man’s house

Bield's sheltered housing complex in Newarthill.
Bield's sheltered housing complex in Newarthill.

A housing association is being branded cold-hearted after the family of an elderly man were given just 24 hours to empty his home when he died.

Vince Kerr’s relatives eventually paid a bill for £143 because they failed to collect his belongings before the funeral.

Bield Housing, a registered charity, insists such a charge is necessary ‘to minimise rent loss’, but Mr Kerr’s family said a degree of compassion should be shown and relatives given time to grieve.

Mr Kerr (70) lived at Bield’s McCormack Gardens in Newarthill, but had various health problems and died in Wishaw General last month.

His sister-in-law Margaret Gibson said that just a day later Mr Kerr’s daughter Nicola Crolla was phoned by someone from the sheltered housing complex who’d heard about his death.

Mrs Gibson said: “Nicola explained she was waiting on the undertaker and had intended phoning Bield. This person then said they had 24 hours to empty her dad’s home.

“The family were in total shock. They were told that to enable them to keep the house till after the funeral they had to pay £16.47 per day.

“Do some people have no compassion for a family in mourning or is it all about money?”

The grieving family didn’t get round to clearing out the house until nine days after Mr Kerr’s death.

Mrs Gibson added: “The family had enough things to worry about, including a funeral to organise, without thinking about emptying the house.

“Surely a housing association should at least wait until the funeral is over before they start charging?”

A Bield spokesman said: “An individual’s tenancy ends on the same day as their death. But if further time is requested by the family to clear the property, it is necessary to make a small daily charge for each day the family continue to have access as the property cannot be re-let until it is cleared.

“It is important for us to minimise the level of lost rent and service charges to ensure we are able to provide quality services to our all tenants.”

More on this story in this week’s Motherwell Times, out now.