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Epping Forest District Council (19 019 718)

Category : Housing > Allocations

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 30 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s decision that the complainant cannot join the housing register because she does not meet the residency rules. This is because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to as Ms X, complains about the Council’s decision that she cannot join the housing register. She would like the Council to give her a three bedroom home.

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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 an investigation if we believe it is unlikely we would find fault. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I read the complaint and the Council’s response. I considered the Council’s allocation policy and invited Ms X to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

Allocations policy

  1. The policy says people do not qualify for the housing register if they have lived in the Council area for less than seven continuous years immediately prior to the date of the application. There are some exceptions to the policy.

What happened

  1. Ms X lived in Epping Forest area from 1990 until 2015. She lived out of the Council area from 2015 to 2018. In April 2018 she moved into a one bedroom flat in the area with her baby.
  2. In 2019 Ms X applied to join the housing register. Soon afterwards she gave birth to twins. She remains in a one bedroom flat and needs a larger home. Ms X applied to join the housing register.
  3. The Council rejected the application because Ms X has not lived in the area continuously for the seven years prior to her application to join the housing register in 2019.
  4. Ms X disagrees with the decision and wants the Council to give her a three bedroom home.

Assessment

  1. I will not start an investigation because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council. The policy says people cannot join the register if they have lived in the area for less than seven years. Ms X has not lived in the area continuously for the seven years prior 2019 and none of the exceptions apply to her. The Council’s decision is consistent with the policy so there is no reason to start an investigation. The Ombudsman does not act as an appeal body and cannot intervene simply because a council makes a decision that someone disagrees with.

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Final decision

  1. I will not start an investigation because there is insufficient evidence of fault by the Council.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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