Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Friday, 5 December 2008

Bereaved council tenant must move

A council tenant in Derby said she was "devastated" at being ordered to move out of her home of 21 years, weeks after her partner's death.

Dorothy Martin, 67, said she "wanted to die" when she was told of the decision by Derby Homes.

The housing management company said the decision was based solely on occupancy. A city council spokesman said Ms Martin's case was still being assessed.

Ms Martin's long-term partner Norma died in September.

There has been a hardening of policy recently to limit the amount of under-occupation in housing
Bob Troup, Derby City Council

Ms Martin said she was upset at how she was being treated and felt "pressured" by officials who told her about the move.

"You need to treat people as human beings with compassion and a bit of thoughtfulness - if people want to stop in their homes they shouldn't be badgered and pressured all I wanted to do is die at the beginning," she said.

Growing list

City council cabinet member for housing Bob Troup said when Ms Martin's partner died, she retained her right to a tenancy, but not necessarily to that particular property.

Mr Troup said: "Staff dealing with these situations have a very difficult job to do and it is very hard to get across to people the reality of the situation."

Tenants are given six-month period when they can remain in their homes if they are grieving, he said, and another six-month period to find a new property.

The number of council houses in the city has dropped from 26,000 to 13,000 in the past 30 years, but the waiting list is growing, he said.

"Derby City Council has a duty to use its social housing stock to best effect and there has been a hardening of policy recently to limit the amount of under-occupation in housing."

"We are not doing anything which is against the regulations or the law - we are following the letter of the 1985 Housing Act," he said.


Dorothy Martin has said she will fight to stay in the house

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