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London Borough of Havering (19 011 749)

Category : Housing > Allocations

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 20 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mrs X complained about the Council’s failure to rehouse her since she applied for a transfer three years ago. The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault causing injustice to Mrs X. We cannot investigate her complaints about repairs to her council home because the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction to investigate complaints about repairs to social rented housing.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mrs X, complains about the Council’s failure to give her housing application sufficient priority for her to obtain a transfer from her current council home. She says her home is overcrowded and has dampness which the Council has not remedied. She also says she asked for a medical assessment for her son in 2017 and the Council failed to pass this on to its medical assessors.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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 or continue with an investigation if we believe:
  • it is unlikely we would find fault, or
  • the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or
  • it would be reasonable for the person to ask for a council review or appeal.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

  1. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered all the information which Mrs X submitted with her complaint. I have also considered the Council’s response and Mrs X has been given the opportunity to comment on the draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mrs X is a tenant of the Council and she applied for rehousing three years ago because her current two bedroomed home is too small for her family. She says the property has suffered from dampness in the winter months since she moved in. She applied for rehousing and asked the Council to carry out a medical assessment of her son’s needs in 2017.
  2. Mrs X complained to the Council about the failure to give her sufficient priority to move. The Council says she is currently in Band CC1 which is the highest banding for an applicant in her current circumstances. The Council’s inspectors told her that the dampness in her home is due to condensation and not an underlying damp issue. The Council did accept that it had failed to forward the request for a medical assessment to its medical advisors in 2017.
  3. The Council told Mrs X that it would re-assess the dampness jointly with staff from the managing agency with whom it shares repairs responsibility. It also told her that it would send housing officers to contact her about completing an up to date medical assessment for her son.
  4. The Ombudsman cannot investigate complaints about repairs in property managed by social housing landlords. We can investigate complaints about housing allocations and it is clear that there was fault in the failure to pass the medical request to its medical advisors. We do not know whether this fault has caused injustice to Mrs X. If the new assessment gives her a higher priority then the Council should offer a remedy for the delay in processing the medical application.
  5. If the medical assessment does not alter Mrs X’s priority, then there is no injustice to her caused by the delay. If her priority is increased and the Council does not offer a remedy for its previous fault then Mrs X could submit a new complaint to the Ombudsman.

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Recommended action

  1. Mrs X should complete a new medical assessment form for her son and the Council should ensure that it is processed within a reasonable timescale.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault causing injustice to Mrs X. We cannot investigate her complaints about repairs to her council home because the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction to investigate complaints about repairs to social rented housing.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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