Kettering Borough Council’s error cost a family a new home opposite the school attended by their son, who has special needs.
Kettering Borough Council’s error cost a family a new home opposite the school attended by their son, who has special needs. The Ombudsman said that, but for the error, the complainant would now be the tenant of the property he needed to meet his family’s needs – and the Council accepts this.
The complainant’s son had special needs that required the family to have more room in the home and to live nearer to their son’s school. His father applied to the Council for rehousing and it assessed the family’s needs. Because he was eligible under its housing allocations policy, it nominated them for the tenancy of a housing association-owned home.
The housing association offered the complainant the home, which was situated opposite his son’s school, but then withdrew the offer because he did not meet the housing association’s criteria for rehousing. The Council refused the complainant’s request for a review of that decision under its own policy because it said the decision had been made under the housing association’s policy. Both the Council and the housing association now accept this was wrong. The property should have been let using the Council’s housing policy.
The Council’s error has led to the complainant and his family living for longer than he needed to in a home not meeting their needs, and incurring additional transport costs for transporting his son to and from school.
The Ombudsman found maladministration causing injustice and the Council agreed to:
- apologise to the complainant and pay him £3,800 in recognition of the distress and inconvenience caused to him and his family
- continue to give him priority for a home close to his son’s school through a direct letting
- assess what assistance is required to help meet the son’s needs within the home and identify charities that could offer further assistance until an appropriate property is allocated
- review its agreements and the understandings housing associations have of those agreements, and
- review staff training needs.
The Council was asked to confirm, within two months of the date of this report, that these actions had been completed.
Remedy agreed prior to publication: 16 January 2013