London Borough of Camden (23 002 348)

Category : Housing > Allocations

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 25 Jan 2024

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr D complained how the Council handled his housing application to move from a property with serious disrepair issues. We do not find the Council was at fault.

The complaint

  1. Mr D complained how the Council handled his housing application to move from a property with serious disrepair issues. He says the Council delayed adding the correct points to his housing application.
  2. Mr D says the matter caused distress and he remained in unsuitable housing for longer than necessary.

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What I have and have not investigated

  1. I have investigated how the Council handled Mr D’s housing application. I have not investigated how the Council dealt with the disrepair issues in the property as those are housing management issues and therefore under the jurisdiction of the Housing Ombudsman Service.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  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)
  2. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word fault to refer to these. If we are satisfied with an organisation’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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information from Mr D. I made written enquiries of the Council and considered information it sent in response.
  2. Mr D and the Council had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I considered any comments received before making a final decision.

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What I found

Relevant law and guidance

  1. 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))
  2. An allocations scheme must give reasonable preference to applicants in the following categories:
  • homeless people;
  • people in insanitary, overcrowded or unsatisfactory housing;
  • people who need to move on medical or welfare grounds;
  • people who need to move to avoid hardship to themselves or others;
    (Housing Act 1996, section 166A(3))

The Council’s housing allocation scheme

  1. The Council’s housing allocations scheme is points-based, which awards priority points based on its assessment of the needs of the applicant and members of their household.
  2. Applicants can report a change of circumstances, following which the Council will re-assess a person’s application to take account of new information.
  3. If an applicant is a Camden Council tenant and their property has been assessed as needing essential repairs, they will be eligible for 600 points.
  4. The Council awards housing and health related needs points for applicants who have a medical condition that is being made worse by their housing conditions and their current property cannot be improved or adapted to meet their needs at a reasonable cost. The Council’s medical assessment officer will assess the application.

What happened

  1. Mr D is a Council tenant. He was living in a property with disrepair issues. The Council inspected the property in February 2023 and noted it was not fit for Mr D to live in. The officer completed an essential repairs report at the beginning of March and said there was a very urgent need for Mr D to be rehoused.
  2. Mr D applied to the Council’s housing register a few days later and said he wanted to leave the property as it was affecting his mental health and physical wellbeing.
  3. The Council requested internal information about the disrepair in the property in April. The housing management team passed this to the officer dealing with Mr D’s application a few days later. The Council reviewed Mr D’s housing application and awarded him 600 essential repair points at the end of April. It also awarded him 30 transfer points.
  4. Mr D emailed the Council in May and said he wanted it to award him health points. He sent in medical information for it to consider. The Council spoke to Mr D the following week and confirmed it had sent his medical information to its occupational therapist.
  5. Mr D called the Council at the beginning of June and asked for an update on his health review. He also sent further information for it to consider. The Council told Mr D it could take 12 weeks for a decision.
  6. The Council’s records of Mr D’s bidding history show he bid and was shortlisted to a view a property at the beginning of June. Mr D viewed the property and decided to accept it.
  7. The Council told Mr D his health review was no longer valid as he had accepted a new property. Mr D moved into his new property at the end of July.
  8. Mr D complained to the Council about how it handled his housing application. He said it removed the health points from his application. He also said it delayed adding the essential repair points to his application.
  9. The Council responded to Mr D’s complaint. It said it inspected his property in December 2022 and re-inspected in February 2023. Following the latter inspection, it completed an essential repair report and sent it to the housing verification team in April. It said it followed the correct process. It also said the information he provided in his housing application did not generate any health points. It said it was reviewing the further medical evidence he provided in May, but it closed the application as he accepted an offer on a different property.

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  1. We expect councils to consider housing applications within eight weeks. The Council met the timescale in this case. It received Mr D’s housing application at the beginning of March, and by the end of April it had reviewed his application and awarded him the relevant points. There was no unreasonable delay and therefore the Council was not at fault.
  2. Mr D says the Council removed the health points from his application. However, the Council never awarded him these points. It decided it did not have enough information when it initially assessed his housing application to award him health points. Mr D asked for a review, but he was successful in securing a different property before the Council had a chance to consider the documents he provided. Therefore, it cancelled his application as it was no longer valid. The Council was not at fault.

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Final decision

  1. I have completed my investigation. The Council was not at faut.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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