Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 01 Mar 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s failure to respond to reports of rats. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council.
- The complainant, whom I refer to as Mr X, complains that the Council ignored his reports of rats for seven months. Mr X says he was forced to employ a private pest controller and incurred costs of more than £1000. Mr X wants a refund.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I 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. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start an investigation if we believe it is unlikely we would find fault. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I read the complaint and the Council’s responses. I considered comments Mr X made in response to a draft of this decision and I looked at a video he sent.
What I found
- The Council provides a pest control treatment for rats which costs £70. The service, and the price, is advertised on the Council’s website.
- In December 2016 Mr X reported rats in his neighbour’s garden. The Council visited and confirmed rodent activity. The Council spoke to the neighbour who agreed to carry out a treatment. The Council says it left a message with Mr X in January 2017 asking for an update. The Council did not receive a response so closed the case in February.
- Mr X reported rats in June. The Council contacted Mr X, and other residents, and confirmed rodent activity around many of the properties. The Council undertook a number of visits, carried out treatments and gave advice about preventing rodent activity. The Council gave Mr X information about the Council’s pest control service. In July Mrs X told the Council they had made their own arrangements.
- Mr X says he was forced to spend over £1000 on pest control because the Council failed to respond for seven months. He asked the Council to reimburse his costs. The Council declined.
- Mr X says there is still rodent activity in the area and this has recently been confirmed by the private pest control company.
- I will not start an investigation because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council. This is because the Council responded in December and gave advice to the neighbour about dealing with the rats. It closed the case because it did not receive a response from Mr X for an update.
- Mr X next contacted the Council in June. The Council carried out visits in relation to rodent activity identified in a number of properties. It also gave information to Mr X about its pest control service. There was a problem with rats in the area but the Council took appropriate action to deal with the problem. The fact there is still rodent activity does not mean there was fault by the Council.
- Mr X says he got no response for seven months. However, if he thought the Council had failed to respond he could have made a complaint or chased the Council for a reply in early 2017. Alternatively, Mr X could have booked an appointment with the Council’s pest control service rather than choosing to use a private contractor. The Council’s website explains the cost of its service and explains how people can book a visit. Even though Mr X says the Council ignored him, he could have booked a pest control visit rather than choosing to use a private contractor. In addition, rather than continuing to use the private company Mr X could have chosen, at any point, to use the Council service instead.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman