Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 09 Jan 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint that the Council has unreasonably refused to install a bath in place of a shower in a tenant’s property. This is because we have no jurisdiction to consider the council housing management issue in question.
- The complainant, who I shall call Miss X, complained that the Council had unreasonably refused her request for it to replace the level-access shower in her property with a bath and shower. Miss X said she needed to have use of a bath because of a health condition.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate. In particular 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, Schedule 5.5 (as amended)]
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information Miss X provided with her complaint. I also gave Miss X an opportunity to comment on a draft version of this decision before I reached a final view in her case. In addition I took account of Miss X’s correspondence with the Council regarding her complaint issue.
What I found
- The Council said that in recent times it had replaced the original baths in its sheltered housing with level-access showers. It said this was in recognition of increasing health and mobility issues faced by the residents of its sheltered accommodation.
- Miss X is a Council tenant in a sheltered housing scheme. When she moved into the property several years ago, the bathroom was already fitted with a level access shower instead of a bath.
- However earlier this year Miss X approached the Council to ask it to replace her walk-in shower with a bath and shower. She said she needed to use a bath for health reasons.
- Miss X said a Council surveyor visited her and agreed the work could be done. But when she chased this matter with the Council later a different surveyor told her it was not possible to install a bath.
- Miss X complained to the Council about this matter. In response the Council said it could find no record that the first surveyor had agreed to carry out the work she wanted. It also re-iterated its decision to refuse Miss X’s request.
- In particular the Council said it was not its policy to replace showers in good condition, and it wanted to retain a level access shower in the property to ensure it remained accessible for future tenants. The Council also noted that Miss X’s Occupational Therapist had not supported her request.
- But the Ombudsman cannot become involved in this matter. In particular, we no longer have power to investigate complaints about the way councils manage their tenanted properties. This follows a change in the law in April 2013 which transferred authority for dealing with most complaints about council housing management to the Housing Ombudsman Service.
- Miss X’s complaint is about what fittings the Council should provide in the bathroom of the property she rents. In the circumstances I consider her complaint concerns the Council’s actions and responsibilities as the landlord of her property. So as this matter relates directly to the Council’s social housing management function, we are prevented by law from investigating Miss X’s case.
- The Ombudsman cannot investigate Miss X’s complaint about the Council’s refusal to replace the level-access shower in her property with a bath and shower. This is because our jurisdiction does not cover complaints about the management of council housing.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman