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Isle of Wight Council (12 001 189)

Category : Housing > Allocations

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 05 Feb 2015

Summary

A man complains that the council forced him to accept a property that was too small for his family and has since then failed to offer him a larger property or give him adequate priority on the housing register to enable him to move to a larger property within a reasonable period of time.

The complaint

The Ombudsman finds that the council was at fault in offering the man a property which was too small for his family’s needs. The council was also at fault in failing to advise him in writing of his right to request a review of the suitability of the accommodation offered.

This fault has caused the man and his family a serious injustice. They were moved from accommodation which, although temporary, met their needs into a property which was significantly less suitable and not large enough for them. They have been living in overcrowded conditions for two years and the man's 12 year old daughter was forced to sleep in a bedroom which, by law, is too small.

Finding

The Ombudsman finds fault which has caused injustice to the complainant.

Recommendations

The council has agreed to provide guidance to its housing officers about overcrowding rules to ensure their knowledge and practice in this area is up to date.

The Ombudsman also recommends the council:

  • elevates the man's priority to the highest category (Band One) to ensure he is re-housed as quickly as possible; and
  • pay him £1,000 to acknowledge the distress and frustration he and his family have suffered by living in unsuitable accommodation for over two years longer than necessary and for his time and trouble pursuing his complaint.

Further report

On 2 October we issued a further report into Isle of Wight Council after it didn't accept the recommendation to pay the £1,000. We considered the council's arguments for not complying but asked it to reconsider its position on the recommended financial remedy.

Statement of non-compliance

The action taken by the council following consideration of our reports was not satisfactory. We therefore served a notice requiring the council to publish a statement (in accordance with the Local Government Act 1974) in two editions of a newspaper on a news page. The council published this statement in the Isle of Wight County Press and Daily Echo Southampton on 27 February 2015.

The Ombudsman remained unsatisfied with the council's response following the publication of the statement.

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