The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: There is no fault in the Council’s decision to suspend Mrs X’s housing application.
- Mrs X complains the Council refused to allow her to apply for housing. Mrs X says she feels isolated in her current home and wants to move close to her parents.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints of injustice caused by ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
- If we are satisfied with a council’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)
How I considered this complaint
- I have spoken to Mrs X about her complaint and considered the information she provided to the Ombudsman. This includes letter from her GP and the Council’s review of its decision to not allow her to apply for housing.
- I have also considered the Council’s comments on Mrs X’s complaint.
- I have written to Mrs X and the Council with my draft decision and given them an opportunity to comment.
What I found
- 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))
- Councils must notify applicants in writing of the following decisions and give reasons:
- that the applicant is not eligible for an allocation;
- that the applicant is not a qualifying person;
- a decision not to award the applicant reasonable preference because of their unacceptable behaviour.
- Mrs X moved to new social housing through the Council’s housing allocations scheme following a bereavement and harassment at her previous home.
- Mrs X says she struggled to settle in her new home and felt isolated. Mrs X says she cares for her mother who is agoraphobic and has to visit her daily. Mrs X’s new property is 0.4 mils from her mother’s house. Mrs X says it is uphill and she struggles to walk there and back each day due to her mobility issues.
- Mrs X applied to go back on the Council’s housing register. However, the Council immediately suspended her application as its policy says anyone who has been rehoused cannot reapply for housing for 12 months.
- Mrs X appealed the Council’s decision. The Council wrote to Mrs X on 14 September 2018 and said her application remained suspended until 11 December 2018 which is 12 months from the date she was rehoused. The Council said it had considered the evidence Mrs X had provided to support her appeal.
- The Council has now reinstated Miss X’s application. The Council has awarded her the lowest banding as it says she has no housing needs.
- Miss X says her current property is not suitable for her needs as her mobility issues means she struggles to use a bath. Miss X says her neighbour has told her the landlord will not put in wet rooms. Miss X also says she is isolated and needs to move closer to her mother for mutual support.
- There is no fault in the way the Council dealt with Miss X’s application. The Council has considered the documents Miss X provided to support her application and the location of Miss X’s previous home. However, the Council found there was no reason to bypass its policy not to allow people to apply for housing within 12 months of being rehoused. That is a decision the Council is entitled to take and I cannot criticise it.
- If Mrs X believes her current housing does not meet her medical needs she should discuss this with her landlord and the Council. It may be possible to make adaptations to meet her needs depending on the outcome of any assessment. However I have not seen any evidence the Council has been made aware of Mrs X’s mobility issues so I cannot criticise the Council for not doing this sooner.
- I have completed my investigation as I have found no fault.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman