Care homes selling dead residents' possessions and keeping the cash, watchdog warns

Care homes are selling dead residents' possessions and keeping the cash, the Competition and Markets Authority has warned.

The watchdog said some homes have contracts including a clause which allows them to sell a deceased person's things after they die and not return the proceeds to their families or executors.

In a document published on Friday it said it had "seen terms" in some contracts which allowed homes to "dispose" of a person's possessions "without providing adequate notice to the estate of its intention to do so" and "without setting out that any monies received from the sale of possessions, minus reasonable expenses, should be returned to the resident’s estate or their personal representatives, within a reasonable timeframe".

The watchdog has come across numerous examples of contracts with this clause and is calling on families of those who have died to come forward if they have experienced the practice.

Pete Moorey, director of campaigns at consumer group Which? said: "Families will be horrified to think they need to worry about whether an elderly relative's property will be treated with respect in the days after their death."

The issue is among those being examined by the CMA as part of a consultation announced in November. Others include the practice of charging residents fees for up to a month after their death.

On Friday large care home group Maria Mallaband said it would scrap its policy to require a month's fees following the death of a resident.

The CMA believes charging such fees is against the law and is investigating several care companies which do so.

Michael Grenfell, executive director for enforcement at the CMA, said: “We are pleased that the Maria Mallaband Care Group has been responsive to our concerns about fees charged after death, and has taken clear and positive steps to make changes ahead of our public consultation on such fees.

"We expect other care homes to make any necessary changes in line with our final views when published.

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