Nottingham City Council (22 003 583)

Category : Environment and regulation > Antisocial behaviour

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 19 Jun 2023

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Miss X complained about the way Nottingham City Homes, acting on behalf of the Council, handled her reports of anti-social behaviour, decided an alternative property offered to her in December 2022 was suitable and investigated her staff conduct complaint. The Council was at fault for a delay in considering the impact of the behaviour complained about on Miss X, considering whether a case review using its community trigger process would be appropriate and investigating her staff conduct complaint. Nottingham City Homes should apologise, make a payment to Miss X and review its process.

The complaint

  1. Miss X was a tenant in a property managed by Nottingham City Homes (NCH), an organisation set up to manage Nottingham City Council’s housing stock. She complained about the way NCH, acting on behalf of the Council:
      1. handled her reports of anti-social behaviour (ASB) between June 2020 and June 2022;
      2. decided that a property, offered by way of management transfer in December 2021, was suitable for her; and
      3. investigated her staff conduct complaint.
  2. Miss X said these failings caused significant distress and worry and meant she was living in accommodation where she did not feel safe between June 2020 and December 2022, when she successfully bid for another property.

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The Ombudsmen’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) investigates complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, we have used the word fault to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. We refer to this as ‘injustice’. Injustice may include distress, inconvenience or being put to avoidable time and trouble. If there has been fault which has caused an injustice, we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26(1) and 26A(1), as amended)
  2. The LGSCO considers whether there was fault in the way an organisation made its decision. If there was no fault in the decision making, we cannot question the outcome. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
  3. The LGSCO investigates complaints about councils and certain other bodies. Where an individual, organisation or private company is providing services on behalf of a council, we can investigate complaints about the actions of these providers. (Local Government Act 1974, section 25(7), as amended)
  4. The Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) approach to investigating and determining complaints is to decide what is fair in all the circumstances of the case. This is set out in the Housing Act 1996 and the Housing Ombudsman Scheme. The HOS considers the evidence and establishes if there has been any ‘maladministration’, including circumstances where a landlord behaved unreasonably, treated the complainant in an inappropriate manner of failed to comply with its obligations. (Paragraph 52 of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme)
  5. The HOS Dispute Resolution Principles are ‘be fair’, ‘put things right’ and ‘learn from outcomes’ – we will apply these principles when considering whether any redress is appropriate and proportionate for any maladministration or service failure identified.
  6. When considering complaints, if there is a conflict of evidence, we make findings based on the balance of probabilities. This means that we will weigh up the available relevant evidence and base our findings on what we think was more likely to have happened.
  7. If the LGSCO is satisfied with an organisation’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)
  8. Following an investigation, the HOS may order a member landlord to take steps to put things right. (Paragraphs 54-55 of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme)

Scope of our investigation

  1. We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended and Paragraph 42 of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme)
  2. In this case, Miss X complained to LGSCO in June 2022 about events from June 2020. However, she had previously complained to the HOS and was not aware she could also complain to LGSCO about some aspects until the HOS advised her about this. There was no delay in making a complaint to LGSCO after being advised she could do so. On this basis, LGSCO exercised discretion to investigate the period from June 2020.
  3. The law says we should not usually investigate where the body has not yet had a chance to respond to the complaint. In this case, the complaints investigated by NCH cover the period to June 2022. But the ASB was not resolved at that point and there was a second community trigger meeting in July 2022. We have exercised discretion to consider this on the grounds it was a continuation of events, and the Council/NCH were aware of Miss X’s concerns.
  4. Miss X moved to an alternative property in December 2022 about which she has concerns. It is appropriate for her to make a fresh complaint to NCH about this, and we have not considered these concerns.

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How we considered this complaint

  1. Miss X’s complaint covers matters that fall into the jurisdiction of both the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) and the Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS).
  2. Each Ombudsman has therefore investigated the parts of the complaint which are within its jurisdiction and jointly considered the parts of the complaint that fell within both jurisdictions. This decision statement covers both investigations.
  3. We considered:
    • the information Miss X provided and spoke to her about her complaint;
    • the information NCH and the Council provided in response to our enquiries;
    • relevant law and guidance, as set out below; and
    • our guidance on remedies, available on our websites.
  4. Miss X and the Council had an opportunity to comment on our draft decision and we considered their comments before making a final decision.

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What we found

Relevant law and guidance

Anti-social behaviour (ASB)

  1. Councils have a general duty to take action to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB). ASB can take many different forms; and councils should make informed decisions about which of their powers is most appropriate for any given situation.
  2. Statutory Guidance says it is good practice to assess the risk of harm to the victim(s), and any potential vulnerabilities, when they receive a complaint about anti-social behaviour. The welfare, safety and well-being of victims must be the main consideration at every stage of the process. It is particularly important to identify the effect repeated incidents of reported anti-social behaviour on the victim(s), through the use of a continuous risk assessment. The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014: Anti-social behaviour powers – Statutory guidance for frontline professionals (Updated 2022, p26-7)
  3. LGSCO can investigate how councils respond to an ASB report and consider using their general powers to address ASB.

ASB community trigger

  1. The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 introduced six new powers for agencies involved in tackling ASB, and introduced a mechanism to review the handling of complaints of ASB, known as the community trigger process.
  2. Where a person requests a review, and the local threshold criteria is met, the relevant bodies should undertake the review. This includes:
    • sharing information;
    • considering the action already taken;
    • considering if further action is needed and, if so, creating an action plan; and
    • informing the complainant of the outcome.
  3. It is for relevant local bodies to agree their review threshold, but the ASB statutory guidance says this should be, at a maximum, that a complainant has made three reports of ASB within six months.
  4. LGSCO can consider a council’s actions in relation to the community trigger as this is a general ASB power.. Any contribution made by other relevant bodies, such as the police, is not in LGSCO’s jurisdiction.

Housing management

  1. Complaints by council tenants about tenancy management are for the HOS to consider.
  2. Miss X’s tenancy agreement requires her to act reasonably and have consideration for neighbours and says the Council/NCH will “take firm action” in response to ASB or harassment.
  3. The Council/NCH has an ASB, hate crime and domestic abuse policy and procedure that shows that it does not usually define “children playing” as ASB but that:
    • it will acknowledge all ASB reports within one working day of receipt, conducting an “initial report and assessment… at the first point of contact”, followed by an “action plan agreed with victims and witnesses”;
    • it will take next steps within either 24 hours or seven working days, depending on whether it has defined a case as “raised” or “standard”;
    • it will “work in partnership with key agencies”, offer at least monthly updates to the victim and “ensure any support needs identified are met directly by us or through liaison with other agencies, such as victim support agencies”;
    • it will interview all alleged perpetrators “where identified and with the agreement of the victim”; and
    • it will respond “as necessary and appropriate, move from advice, conciliation and support for tenants’ own action, to intervention and legal action” with possible further actions including warnings, support referrals, injunctions, community protection notices and possession proceedings.

The Council’s ASB process

  1. The Council has set up Community Protection, a partnership with the police, to address ASB in its area. This provides a single point of contact for neighbourhood issues and includes the use of Community Protection Officers (CPO) to provide a visible presence in every neighbourhood, working alongside the police to respond to issues reported.
  2. A resident can request a community trigger if they have reported connected incidents of ASB three or more times in the previous six months and they are unhappy with the response. The Council’s website provides information about the process, with an online form and telephone number for requesting a community trigger.


  1. Every local housing authority must publish an allocations scheme that sets out how it prioritises applicants, and its procedures for allocating housing. All allocations must be made in strict accordance with the published scheme. (Housing Act 1996, section 166A(1) & (14))
  2. An allocations scheme must give reasonable preference to applicants in the following categories:
  • homeless people;
  • people in insanitary, overcrowded or unsatisfactory housing;
  • people who need to move on medical or welfare grounds;
  • people who need to move to avoid hardship to themselves or others.
    (Housing Act 1996, section 166A(3))

The Council’s allocations scheme

  1. The Council prioritises applicants using four bands, with band A being the highest priority and band D the lowest priority. Applicants with reasonable preference will be awarded bands A to C. Relevant to this complaint:
    • Band A includes applicants experiencing serious harassment, where there is a serious risk of harm to a member of the household if they stay in their current accommodation. It also includes applicants with severe support needs who are in considerable/urgent risk in their current accommodation, including those with mental health needs. Band A is normally awarded for 6 months, following which it will be reviewed.
    • Band B includes social housing tenants who need to move for management reasons, which do not warrant urgent rehousing, including cases of harassment/serious irreconcilable neighbour disputes, and tenants with physical or mental health problems, not considered chronic or severe enough to amount to a reasonable preference. Band B is normally awarded for 12 months before being reviewed.
  2. The allocations policy says a direct offer, which is an offer of housing outside the usual advertising and bidding process, can be made, for example, in urgent housing management cases (with approval from the Head of Housing Options) and allows for discretion to consider a direct offer in circumstances not listed in the allocations policy.
  3. NCH operates an Allocations and Tenancy Management Panel (the Panel) with responsibility for deciding a number of issues in accordance with the Council's allocations policy, including:
    • considering reports by area housing managers seeking a decision on priority awards, where people need rehousing due to harassment or other housing management issues;
    • reviewing cases with existing band A or B status;
    • requests for direct offers; and
    • reviewing welfare and hardship reports relating to social need and mental health.
  4. Panel guidance says the reasons for decisions will be recorded and where a request for priority rehousing is refused, clear written reasons will be given.

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Complaint about anti-social behaviour

  1. This part of the complaint has been investigated by both Ombudsmen jointly.


  1. Miss X moved to property A in June 2020. This was on medical grounds and following ASB at her previous address. NCH was aware she was vulnerable. In early July, Miss X said she was happy at property A, but soon afterwards she reported noise by a neighbour, Mr Y. NCH addressed this and issued a community protection warning to the neighbour. Miss X did not make further reports about noise from that neighbour.
  2. In early September 2020, an ASB charity contacted NCH to report Mr Y was now working with other neighbours to get Miss X to move from property A, and Miss X was feeling unsafe. The charity said it was concerned about Miss X’s mental health and its view was that Miss X could not remain at property A “now other neighbours are ganging up on her”.
  3. Miss X said she was told to log and report issues but told NCH she was left in property A “like a sitting duck” and that she was afraid to go out. The records indicate that NCH spoke to Miss X and to neighbours but did not open an ASB file at this stage. There is no evidence of a response to the charity.
  4. In response to our enquiries, the Council said there was insufficient evidence of ASB in September 2020 to warrant formal action and that Miss X did not want it to take action, due to her fear of reprisals.
  5. In October 2020, Miss X asked for a management transfer via NCH’s website. Also in October 2020, she asked the tenancy manager, officer 1, about a transfer but they said they could not arrange a priority move. She also asked how she could get a support plan, which was mentioned on NCH’s website, but NCH did not respond to this request.

Our findings – ASB 2020

  1. When Miss X first reported noise by Mr Y, the Council took appropriate action to address this, and was not at fault.
  2. We accept that, when further reports were made in September 2020, there was insufficient evidence of ASB to warrant formal action. But the Council/NCH has not demonstrated it properly considered the impact of the neighbours’ behaviour on Miss X, particularly given it was aware she has previously suffered ASB and that she was vulnerable for medical reasons. This is not in line with the Statutory Guidance, as set out at paragraph 17 and was fault.
  3. There is no record to show how the Council/NCH considered the request for a transfer in October 2020 and no evidence of a letter to Miss X setting out its reasons for not agreeing a priority move, with relevant review rights. This was fault.

ASB reports (2021)

  1. In January 2021, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB), contacted NCH. It said Miss X was suffering from ongoing ASB from neighbours but was not reporting all of these for fear of retaliation. The CAB asked NCH to consider awarding band B priority. The records show NCH spoke to Miss X and the neighbours and requested patrols by community support. By this time, Miss X was in such regular contact with NCH that a single point of contact had been appointed.
  2. Following this, Miss X made a number of reports about ASB involving neighbours, including reports about:
    • neighbours congregating near her home, playing loud music, drinking alcohol, talking loudly, and sometimes swearing;
    • someone parking their car in a way that obstructed her driveway;
    • stones and mud being thrown onto her property; and
    • a ball being thrown at her car.
  3. In response to our enquiries, the Council said that in view of the escalating situation, it decided to complete a management report to support a management transfer for Miss X. The report, prepared in June 2021, noted some of the ASB perpetrators had not been identified, and that Miss X was calling the designated NCH officer, officer 2, several times per day saying she was desperate to move.
  4. NCH did not open an ASB case and conduct an assessment until July 2021.
  5. In mid July 2021, Miss X asked for a community trigger, after looking online for sources of help to address the ASB. In her request she set out examples of the ASB she had suffered since June 2020, which she said meant she had been living in fear and was a prisoner in her own home. She also said she had been ignored and not treated with dignity by NCH staff.
  6. A community trigger meeting was held via video link on 3 August 2021. The outcome letter noted Community Protection and Nottinghamshire Police had received other complaints about ASB in the area, but that Miss X had mainly reported concerns to NCH. It noted NCH had prepared a report to be considered by its management panel but three documents from the CAB sent to NCH in April were password protected and could not be accessed. At the meeting, Miss X agreed to obtain passwords. The outcome letter provided contact details for the Samaritans as Miss X had said she felt suicidal and said a referral would be made to Adult Safeguarding for further support.
  7. The NCH panel met in early August. It awarded band A priority and agreed to make a direct offer to Miss X in view of the impact property A was having on her mental health.
  8. Miss X was not immediately told the outcome of the panel and complained in mid August. There was a delay in responding to the complaint. A response was prepared but not sent to Miss X until 28 September 2021 due to an administrative error that was only picked up when she chased for a response. By this point the panel outcome had been issued.
  9. Miss X remained unhappy and asked NCH to consider the complaint at stage 2 of the complaints process.
  10. NCH responded at stage 2 in mid October 2021. It said:
    • at stage 1, the complaint was investigated within 10 working days and a response was ready to send on 1 September. Due to an administrative error, the response was not sent until 28 September, after Miss X chased it;
    • the neighbours Miss X had identified as perpetrators of the ASB were not tenants of this Council. Therefore, she would need to contact another council, the police, or the perpetrator’s landlord, although NCH understood her reluctance to do so, given the risk of reprisals;
    • the case had been reviewed by officer 3, an NCH manager, who had appointed officer 4, to be a single point of contact to address Miss X’s ongoing concerns;
    • it had agreed to make a direct offer of housing to Miss X, and would consult the Council’s disability housing advisers to assess the suitability of any property identified;
    • it would pay Miss X £200 to cover the cost of security cameras she had purchased for her property as a result of the ASB.

Our findings- ASB 2021

  1. Although NCH allocated a single point of contact, officer 2, for Miss X to report ASB concerns in early 2021, it did not open an ASB case or carry out an assessment until July 2021. Nor did it speak to other households to check how they were affected by the ASB Miss X reported and gather evidence to verify what she said. It had not accessed information sent by the CAB in April 2021 by the time of the community trigger meeting in early August. It was inappropriate that the only actions it took during this period were a visit by a housing patch manager and a request for patrols by community support, and that no ASB case file was opened until July 2021.
  2. On balance, we find NCH did not consider the impact of the behaviour complained about on Miss X as soon as it should have done, and this was fault. It should have considered whether Miss X was eligible for medical priority on the grounds that her housing was affecting her mental health in October 2020. We cannot say whether Miss X would have got band A priority at that point, based on the information that was available or could have been obtained then. Miss X is left with uncertainty about whether the outcome would have been different, which is an injustice to her.
  3. In addition, although we find no fault with the Council’s handling of the community trigger process in 2021 and note that information about the process is available both on the NCH website and the Council website, we are concerned that no-one suggested a review of the case earlier. There was a clear impact on Miss X’s mental health and a need, central to the ASB framework, to take a harm centred approach. The community trigger was designed with this type of case in mind. Individuals cannot seek a review of their case if they are not aware of the process.
  4. On balance, we find fault with NCH, acting on behalf of the Council, for its failure to consider the Council’s general ASB powers, including the potential for a case review using the community trigger and to provide Miss X with information about the process. It is likely she would have requested a review earlier if she had known she could do so, which means the referrals for additional support could have been made earlier.
  5. Although NCH subsequently apologised to Miss X and offered her £200 towards the cost of her security cameras, we consider this was not sufficient to remedy the injustice caused. Further, its complaints response does not show it had learned lessons from the case in line with the HOS Dispute Resolution Principles (paragraph 7), which was fault.
  6. Further, we find fault with NCH, acting on behalf of the Council, for telling Miss X in its stage 2 complaint response that it could only address reports about ASB from other Council tenants, and that she would need to contact another council about perpetrators who were not its tenants. NCH had an ASB officer in its tenancy management team at the time and should have raised Miss X’s concerns with them directly. In any case, it was not appropriate to suggest she contact another council about ASB occurring in this Council’s area. This was fault and left Miss X feeling unsupported.

ASB - 2022

  1. Miss X made a significant number of reports of ASB to officer 4 in the first six months of 2022. She sent videos, filmed using security cameras, in support of many of those reports. These included reports about:
    • children playing on the pavement outside Miss X’s house and on the opposite side of the road, sometimes noisily;
    • children kicking balls at or close to Miss X’s car, parked on her driveway;
    • a child playing on an electric mobility scooter close to Miss X’s car;
    • damage to Miss X’s car and house caused by small stones being thrown;
    • a car being parked, partly across Miss X’s driveway;
    • neighbours congregating on land opposite Miss X’s house, drinking, swearing and making too much noise; and
    • neighbours staring at Miss X and making her feel uncomfortable.
  2. Records show officer 4 considered the reports and videos, shared information with the police, and advised Miss X that:
    • swearing does not, of itself, amount to ASB so no action could be taken;
    • the children playing outside Miss X’s house did not amount to ASB;
    • since Miss X had not witnessed anyone throwing stones (or provided video evidence of this), NCH could not identify any perpetrators to pursue;
    • it could not identify who threw stones at Miss X’s car so NCH could not pursue them.
  3. Miss X also reported the incidents to the police, who reported there was little they could do, apart from offering additional patrols as reassurance.
  4. In June 2022, officer 1 spoke to a neighbour about the child using a mobility scooter. Miss X later complained officer 1 had identified her as the person who complained, which risked her safety. This will be considered further below.
  5. A second community trigger meeting was arranged in late June 2022 to consider the concerns and incidents in the previous six months. On 4 July 2022, the Council wrote to Miss X with the outcome from the meeting. It confirmed:
    • community protection officers (CPO) were aware of the issues with children in the area and had spoken to their parents previously. They were patrolling on foot and by car and if they witnessed any ASB they would address it appropriately;
    • Miss X could contact the senior CPO directly with concerns;
    • the CPO service would not visit Miss X at her home;
    • an ASB charity agreed to contact NCH to support Miss X’s request for a move and ask NCH to consider temporary accommodation for her; and
    • contact details for the Samaritans, as Miss X had said the situation was making her feel suicidal.

Our findings: ASB (2022)

  1. In the first six months of 2022, Miss X continued to report ASB incidents. NCH considered these reports and shared information with Community Protection and the police, which was appropriate. Their professional view was that many of the incidents reported did not amount to ASB and, as such, formal action was not possible. In some cases, formal action could not be taken because it was not possible to identify the perpetrator. We are satisfied that NCH, on behalf of the Council, properly considered the exercise of the Council’s general ASB powers in this period and was not at fault.
  2. The actions taken by NCH at this time demonstrate that it sought to identify alleged perpetrators, co-operated and shared information with other involved agencies and visited a neighbouring property when it became aware that one of its own tenants was linked to the ASB. Overall, this approach was reasonable given the lack of evidence of any hate crime or harassment and its advice that children playing did not represent ASB was in accordance with its related policy.
  3. A second community trigger meeting was held in late June 2022. After reviewing the incidents in the previous six months and the action taken, the meeting agreed appropriate actions to address the ASB incidents and to ensure Miss X could access any further support she needed. An outcome letter was sent to Miss X within a week of the meeting. There was no fault in the way the second community trigger was conducted.

Management transfer


  1. Where a social housing provider agrees a tenant can move to another property it owns or manages, the provider would usually be considered as acting as a manager of social housing. In such cases, any complaint about the handling of the transfer would be for the HOS to consider. However, where there is a decision to award priority on the basis of reasonable preference in line with the allocations policy, this is an allocations decision, and falls in the LGSCO’s remit.
  2. In this case, NCH considered Miss X’s request for a transfer and awarded her band A priority on welfare grounds. This was therefore an allocations decision; despite being referred to by NCH as a management transfer.
  3. At the same panel, NCH agreed to make one direct offer to Miss X. A direct offer can be made either as a result of an allocations decision or in relation to a management transfer. In this case it followed the allocation decision. On that basis, complaints about that offer fall into the LGSCO’s remit. The LGSCO has therefore solely investigated this part of the complaint.

What happened

  1. Following the community trigger meeting on 3 August 2021, NCH considered Miss X’s request for a transfer at its Allocations and Tenancy Management Panel (the Panel) on 8 August 2021. The records show it considered a management report, and information provided by Miss X’s GP, NHS, and the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). The panel agreed to award band A priority and to make one direct offer to Miss X.
  2. In December 2021, NCH identified and offered an alternative property to Miss X, property B. After viewing property B, Miss X refused the offer, as she said it was not suitable for her. She raised concerns about disrepair, which officer 4 considered and responded to in January and February 2022. Officer 4 indicated a gas fire would be replaced once Miss X moved into property B.
  3. Officer 4 also sought advice from the Council’s disability adviser, who confirmed the property was suitable for Miss X. In response to concerns from Miss X, the disability adviser, an occupational therapist (OT), was asked to reassess the property’s suitability. The OT noted the alternative property did not have its own driveway but said Miss X would be able to mobilise the distance from the bungalow to the road where there was parking for cars.
  4. Although Miss X was not entitled to a further direct offer, the Council allowed her to remain in band A and she was successful in bidding for property C in December 2022.

Our findings – management transfer

  1. Miss X has not complained about the decision in August 2021 and we have not found fault with the decision-making process. That said, NCH was confused about the powers it was exercising and the nature of the decision it was making. Although described as a management transfer, NCH was making an allocations decision on behalf of the Council. It’s failure to recognise the true nature of the decision it was making meant it failed to signpost Miss X to LGSCO.
  2. NCH sought appropriate professional advice to confirm property B was suitable for Miss X’s medical needs. Miss X’s concerns about disrepair did not make the property unsuitable for her and could have been addressed either before she moved to the property or shortly afterwards. We find no fault with the decision-making in relation to the offer of property B.

Staff conduct

  1. The HOS has solely investigated the complaint about the NCH staff member’s conduct because they were acting in a tenancy management capacity.
  2. NCH wrote to Miss X on 20 May 2022, advising that it spoken to a neighbour about the child using a mobility scooter in the street and on her driveway and the neighbour had said this would not happen again.
  3. Miss X provided CCTV footage on 12 June 2022 which she said demonstrated NCH had divulged her identity to neighbours as a child on a mobility scooter shouted towards her property about her reporting them.
  4. A member of NCH staff wrote to Miss X accidentally on 13 June 2022 (the email was apparently intended to be sent to a colleague), stating “that’s not on her telling lies on me can we get a response together please”.
  5. NCH sent a further email on the same date, in which it denied divulging Miss X’s details to the neighbour.
  6. In its stage 1 complaint response dated 22 July 2022, it said it had interviewed a member of staff who denied any breach of confidentiality but it apologised for her being copied into an email between staff members, which it said it would address with staff.
  7. Miss X remained unhappy. In August 2022, NCH issued a final complaint response, which concluded there was no evidence of her personal details being shared.
  8. NCH was unable to provide a record of the discussion with the neighbour.

Our findings – staff conduct

  1. It is not disputed there was a conversation with the neighbour in May 2022. NCH denied sharing Miss X’s details with the neighbour but has not been able to provide a record of the discussion. The failure to keep a proper record and subsequent failure to identify this failing through the complaint investigation was unreasonable, particularly given the resident had expressed concerns about retribution and the NCH talking to alleged perpetrators.
  2. It was not appropriate for NCH staff to send Miss X an email suggesting she was lying. NCH accepted this should not have happened. It apologised and spoke to relevant staff. This was appropriate action for NCH to take and remedies any distress caused to Miss X.

Action required

  1. In accordance with paragraph 52 of its Scheme, the HOS found maladministration in relation to the landlord’s handling of the ASB complaint, as set out above in paragraphs 56, 57 and 60, and in relation to the staff conduct complaint, as set out above at paragraph 87.
  2. In accordance with the Local Government Act 1974, as amended, the LGSCO found fault with the Council/NCH because it has not demonstrated it properly considered the impact of the neighbour’s behaviour on Miss X (as set out at paragraph 44), did not properly consider her request for a management transfer in October 2020 (see paragraph 45), inappropriately told Miss X to report ASB to another council (see paragraph 61) and failed to recognise the true nature of the decision its panel made in August 2021, which led to a failure to signpost to LGSCO (as set out in paragraph 77).

HOS orders

  1. Within two weeks of our final decision, NCH, on behalf of the Council, should apologise to Miss X for the faults identified by both Ombudsmen in the handling of her ASB reports in the period October 2020 to July 2021 and in its investigation of her staff conduct complaint.
  2. The HOS orders that within two weeks of our final decision, the Council/NCH should pay Miss X total compensation of £550, made up of:
    • £300 in recognition of the failure identified in its handling of her ASB reports (in addition to the £200 it offered in its October 2021 final complaint response); and
    • £50 in recognition of the failure identified in its handling of her staff conduct concerns.
  3. Also within one month of the final decision, NCH should create an action plan to ensure that its staff maintain clear and accurate records of their interactions with alleged perpetrators of ASB in future.
  4. NCH should provide both Ombudsmen with evidence it has complied with the above orders.

LGSCO agreed action

  1. Within three months of the date of the final decision, the Council will:
    • review its process to ensure that when a tenant requests a transfer or priority on its housing register based on reasonable preference grounds, NCH on behalf of the Council, sends a written decision to the tenant setting out the reasons for its decision and review rights;
    • prepare an information sheet to be given to those reporting ASB, whether or not they are council tenants, which sets out the Council’s general powers to address ASB reports, and includes information about the community trigger process;
    • review how information can be shared between NCH and the Council’s ASB team where a council tenant reports ASB to NCH that relates to perpetrators who are not council tenants to avoid complainants having to make reports to both NCH and the Council on an ongoing basis;
    • provide guidance to relevant staff at NCH and the Council about the need to consider the precise nature of the complaint, including the powers being exercised, before deciding whether to signpost to the HOS or the LGSCO or both at the end of the complaints process.
  2. The Council will provide both Ombudsmen with evidence it has complied with the above actions.

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Final decision

  1. We have completed our investigation. We have found fault by NCH, acting on behalf of the Council, which caused personal injustice. We have made orders and recommended actions to remedy the uncertainty and distress caused and prevent recurrence of the fault.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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