Hundreds of council tenants received an unwelcome Christmas shock after finding their rent had been taken from their bank accounts two weeks early.
A reported 2,600 tenants were affected by the mistake in the housing department at North Tyneside Council, which happened just days before Christmas.
The direct debit should have been taken from their account on January 2 but the error saw it taken just a week before Christmas.
Some residents were unaware of the problem until their bank cards were declined as they tried to pay for presents, food and goods.
One council tenant said: “We noticed when my wife was at the supermarket and the card was declined.
“We then went to check the bank account and found out what the problem was.
“Thankfully, we’ve spoken to the bank and they’ve been very understanding.”
The council apologised for the administrative error and worked to reimburse tenants as quickly as possible before Christmas, while stating a thorough investigation would take place.
A council spokesperson said: “We have worked with our bank and can confirm we have issued the payment transactions to all affected tenants.”