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Category : Housing > Homelessness

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 27 Sep 2017

Summary

The council is at fault for keeping two families in temporary accommodation for too long, which it knew was unsuitable.

The complaint

Two people (Mrs X and Mr Y) both made homelessness applications to the Council. They each complain the Council gave them and their families unsuitable temporary accommodation. Mrs X also complains about the Council’s handling of her application for social housing. The two complainants contacted us separately. Their complaints raise similar matters which we have covered in a single report.

Finding

The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault causing injustice.

Recommendations

To remedy the injustice caused, the council has agreed to:

  • Apologise in writing to Mrs X and Mr Y for the injustice caused by the Council’s faults.
  • Pay Mrs X £2,200. This comprises £250 a month for having to live in unsuitable accommodation from May to October 2016 when the family slept in two rooms, plus £300 a month for the three months from October 2016 to January 2017 when the family slept in one room, plus £300 for Mrs X’s avoidable distress and her time and trouble pursuing matters.
  • Pay Mr Y £2,300. This comprises £300 a month for the six months his family spent in the unsuitable accommodation plus £500 for Mr Y’s avoidable distress and his time and trouble pursuing matters. The payment to Mr Y is slightly larger than to Mrs X because we consider the injustice from the unsuitability of his accommodation was slightly greater.
  • Ensure the Council moves any other families from unsuitable interim and temporary accommodation, especially B&B, without delay.
  • Ensure the Council formally adopts a policy on allocating temporary accommodation. The Council did this on 5 September 2017.
  • Ensure that, each time it places an applicant with family commitments in B&B accommodation, the Council gives the applicant written notification that the law says B&B accommodation is unsuitable for families and that the Council must arrange alternative suitable accommodation within six weeks. The Council states it will explain this in writing to all affected families by 31 October 2017.
  • Give us a progress report explaining how effective the Council’s measures have been at reducing or avoiding the use of unsuitable interim and temporary accommodation, especially B&B accommodation for families.
  • Advise us on how and when the Council will continue monitoring the effectiveness of its measures to avoid the use of unsuitable interim and temporary accommodation for families.

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