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Cheshire East

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Council maladministration and service failures highlighted in latest round of Housing Ombudsman investigations

The Housing Ombudsman has published a collection of its latest decisions, including investigations of complaints about damp works, electrical safety, poor complaints handling, security issues and parking disputes.

There was a finding of service failure at Camden Council regarding its response to a residents concerns about delays to damp works, electrical safety equipment, and a failure of its complaints handling. As a result, the Ombudsman asked Camden to pay £400 in compensation to the complainant.

Maladministration at Haringey Council was meanwhile uncovered after the Ombudsman investigated a complaint relating to the council's handling of a complaint about repairs to the resident's guttering, roof and windowsill. This saw a recommendation that Haringey pay £1,057 in compensation to the resident.

Another investigation uncovered a service failure by Kingston Upon Thames Council relating to a communal entry door not closing. No maladministration was found, but the Ombudsman concluded that there was a service failure by Kingston when handling the resident's complaint.

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In an additional case, Slough Council was asked to re-offer £1,925 in compensation it had already proposed to a resident who had complained about a water leak, despite the complainant's request for £20,000 in compensation.  

The complainant had raised concerns over the effect of the moisture at the property on her and her son's health. She claimed she had been impacted mentally and lost her job because of the issue. She also contended that a council staff member had been rude during a visit to her home.

The Ombudsman found the council had offered satisfactory redress. It also found no evidence of maladministration by the landlord in respect of its investigation into the conduct of a member of its staff.

Housing associations also featured in the release, including a complaint against one landlord on behalf of 53 households concerning its consultation with residents before introducing a parking control scheme.

The Ombudsman said Origin was unable to explain how it had considered the residents' views or how it had assessed the need for a parking scheme. It then delayed unreasonably in responding to the results of a consultation it later carried out with residents. The Ombudsman found service failure and ordered the landlord to write to the group of residents plus other residents on the estate which it has since done.

In another investigation, The Guinness Partnership was told to pay £6,400 in compensation to a resident who complained about the landlord's handling of his concerns about the condition of his windows.

Although the resident was responsible for repairs to his home, the landlord failed to answer his questions about the warranty and how its actions may have impacted the warranty, the investigation found.

The Ombudsman's casebook has now reached more than 1,200 decisions. Cases are uploaded to an online library three months after the Ombudsman's decision.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: "The [Origin and Guinness] cases here really demonstrate the difference our decisions can make not just for individual residents but for wider benefit. I welcome the way the landlords concerned have responded to our findings and would encourage all landlords to regularly use our decisions to help improve services and complaint handling. 

"The casebook also helps to illustrate the type of outcomes following an investigation which, as well as maladministration, includes where we have found no failure or where something has gone wrong but the landlord has provided appropriate redress."

Adam Carey

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