Competition and Markets Authority finds families have been charged fees for ‘extended periods’ after death of residents.
Care homes are charging families for weeks after the death of an elderly relative in some instances, prompting a string of complaints to the competition watchdog that is investigating the sector.
The Competition and Markets Authority has received complaints about families being charged for sums that can amount to thousands of pounds to cover for the time it can take before a room can be relet.
Caroline Abrahams, director at Age UK, said it was “wholly unfair” to charge for rooms after someone had died and their room became vacant. “This is a really difficult and distressing time for relatives and the last thing they need is to be worried about money in this way.”
Many care homes charge the relatives of a deceased resident for a week so there is time to clear their belongings, but the CMA was told in submissions that families were being charged fees for “extended periods” after their relative’s room had been cleared.
The CMA launched its investigation before Christmas, and is scheduled to deliver its interim report by 1 June. The regulator has called for more residents and their relatives to come forward.
It is conducting a wider study into how the market works, but also whether there are grounds for consumer enforcement action. The regulator has the power to make recommendations to the government and the industry about changes that need to be madeand can also threaten businesses with legal action if they are deemed to have breached consumer laws or engaged in unfair commercial practices.