Disabled man moved to inappropriate temporary accommodation due to severe maladministration, Housing Ombudsman finds

The Housing Ombudsman has made a finding of severe maladministration against a housing association after investigating a complaint in a case where there was "significant detriment" to a vulnerable resident.

The investigation found that social landlord Abri Homes failed to resolve issues with the resident's leaking shower in a timely manner. As a result, the resident, who has health and mobility issues, was left without adequate washing facilities and was forced to leave his home to temporary accommodation multiple times.

Although Abri repaired the man's shower each time he reported a problem, there continued to be problems with the shower leaking.

The man was moved to temporary accommodation on five occasions. At least once, the accommodation was not suitable as it had no grab rails and access, the investigation found.

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The Ombudsman said there was considerable delay in progressing the resident's complaint through the landlord's complaints procedure, and the formal complaint responses did not address the full extent of the issues raised by the resident.

In addition, the Ombudsman issued a Complaint Handling Failure Order as the landlord failed to provide the information requested that it considered essential to the formal investigation of the case.

These factors amounted to a finding of severe maladministration on the landlord's complaint handling. In light of the finding, the Ombudsman ordered Abri Homes to pay the resident £3,000 in compensation to cover expenses, damaged possessions and the distress and inconvenience he experienced.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: "It is evident that the resident experiences severe mobility issues and is reliant on his representative in completing daily activities. As such, resolving his repair issues in an effective and timely manner was essential. 

"The landlord's formal response focused on the level of financial redress but failed to respond to all the issues raised by the resident. It missed the opportunity to review the case in a holistic manner, with the resident placed at the centre. Had it done this promptly, the landlord might have recognised the extent of the resident's detriment and arrived at an appropriate resolution.

"I welcome the improvements Abri have made in light of this case, and encourage other landlords to consider the learning this case offers for their own services."

A spokesperson for Abri said: “Abri is committed to providing excellent customer service, but we don’t get it right every time. We’ve learnt a lot from this case and have taken the necessary steps to put things right. We have said sorry to our customer and have added further controls in our complaints process to make sure administrative errors like this don’t re-occur.

“We continue to work with this customer to ensure their specific complex needs are met and our offer to improve their property went above and beyond our legal requirements. We welcome the close working relationship with the Ombudsman as a way to improve what we do.”

Adam Carey

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