London Borough of Ealing (18 009 717)

Category : Environment and regulation > Noise

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 18 Dec 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Miss X complained about lack of action by the Council in response to her complaints about the behaviour of her neighbour, another council tenant. We have stopped our investigation. This is because most of the matters Miss X complains about are not within our jurisdiction and we cannot achieve her desired outcome which is for the Council to move her tenancy.

The complaint

  1. Miss X, a council tenant, complains the Council failed to take action against her former neighbour, another council tenant, despite her making many reports of noise nuisance and anti-social behaviour by her neighbour. She wants the Council to agree to move her into another property.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint unless we are satisfied the council knows about the complaint and has had an opportunity to investigate and reply. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to notify the council of the complaint and give it an opportunity to investigate and reply (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(5))
  2. We cannot investigate complaints about the provision or management of social housing by a council acting as a registered social housing provider. (Local Government Act 1974, paragraph 5A schedule 5, as amended)
  3. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants, or there is another body better placed to consider this complaint. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by Miss X and by the Council. I spoke to Miss X about her complaint.
  2. I have written to Miss X and the Council with my draft decision and given them an opportunity to comment. I will consider what they say before making my final decision.

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What I found

  1. Miss X is a council tenant living in a flat. During 2016 Miss X made several complaints to the Council about a neighbour living in the flat above who was also a council tenant. She reported the neighbour’s anti-social behaviour towards her, and noise they made. She explained the serious harm this was doing to her health. She made a formal complaint to the Council in June 2016.
  2. The Council has provided the Ombudsman with a letter it says it sent Miss X on 8 July 2016. The letter invited Miss X to a meeting to discuss her complaint in more detail, fully review the situation and request Miss X’s permission to talk to other agencies about aspects of her complaint. Miss X says she did not receive this letter.
  3. As a result of future contact from Miss X and a representative, the Council met with them at Miss X’s home at the end of 2017.
  4. In July 2018, the Council evicted Miss X’s neighbour from the flat. In September 2018 a representative for Miss X made a complaint to the Council. The representative said the Council had not replied to the complaint Miss X made in June 2016 and it had not returned Miss X’s calls about the situation.
  5. The Council intended to reply to Miss X’s representative in October 2018. It prepared a letter of reply but was not able to send this out without consent from Miss X to share information about her with the representative.
  6. Meanwhile Miss X complained to the Ombudsman. She told us she had been ignored by the Council which had done nothing to help her as a tenant. She said the Council had not responded to her 2016 complaint. She wanted to move.
  7. After our enquiries to the Council it sent Miss X its complaint reply (originally intended to go to her representative) directly. This said it had replied to her 2016 complaint by letter in July that year, offering a meeting but not had a reply. As a result of further contact from Miss X and her representative, it had visited her home at the end of 2017 to discuss options. The Council said it was not clear what outcome Miss X wanted to achieve from her complaint. It offered her the option to request a review at stage 2 of its complaint procedure.
  8. Miss X told me she is now very concerned because a new tenant has recently moved into the empty flat. She said anxiety about the situation was seriously damaging her health.

My findings

  1. Most of Miss X’s complaint is about the Council’s actions as a social housing provider, including what it did about her neighbour’s behaviour and Miss X’s wish to move to another council property. These are not matters the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman can investigate and is not an outcome we can achieve.
  2. The Council has offered to consider Miss X’s complaint at stage two of its procedure.
  3. The only part of Miss X’s complaint that we could investigate is the Council’s response to those parts of her complaint that concern noise nuisance. However the Council has now evicted the tenant concerned. This is more than the Ombudsman could have recommended through any investigation. There is nothing else the Ombudsman could achieve from further investigation of this part of Miss X’s complaint. Therefore, I am proposing to stop my investigation.
  4. Miss X is very concerned she will suffer similar noise nuisance from the new tenant. She can report any problems she experiences to the Council. We would expect it to deal with these promptly and appropriately. If she is not satisfied with its actions she can complain to it and then to the Ombudsman.

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Final decision

  1. I have stopped this investigation. This is because most of Miss X’s complaint is not within our jurisdiction and we cannot achieve the outcome Miss X wants.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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