Bristol City Council (16 003 575)

Category : Housing > Homelessness

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 03 Apr 2018

Summary

A man (Mr X) complained about the way Bristol City Council handled his homelessness and housing applications. He also complained about the way the Council stopped paying for storing his belongings after it decided it did not owe the family housing duty.

The complaint

Mr X and his family lived in one room in a hotel with no cooking facilities from April 2014 to July 2017. Many Council departments knew about this but did not refer to the Housing Department for help and advice. The Council opened a housing application for Mr X in 2014 for administrative purposes. It did not tell Mr X about this and Mr X could not make a new housing application. In August 2015 the Council told Mr X it would not communicate with him further about his housing situation and storage of his possessions. When the Council did register a housing application in March 2017, Mr X made a successful bid in two months. The delay in getting to this point meant Mr X missed the opportunity of an earlier offer of suitable accommodation.

The Council failed to take a homelessness application in April 2016 and did not do so until March 2017. We cannot say what the outcome of the homelessness application would have been but Mr X missed the opportunity of suitable interim accommodation and an earlier active housing application.

The Council wrongly stopped paying for the storage of Mr X’s possessions in 2015 causing him time, trouble and distress and meaning he was without access to his possessions

Finding

The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault causing injustice.

Recommendations

During the investigation, the Council followed a recommendation from us and registered a homelessness and housing application for Mr X. It has now housed Mr X and returned his stored belongings to him. We also recommended the Council wipe off the whole contribution Mr X agreed to make for storage costs in recognition of the trouble and distress its actions caused when it stopped paying for storage. The Council has done this. We welcome the action the Council has already taken to provide a remedy for part of Mr X’s complaint.

  • In addition, to fully remedy the injustice caused, we recommend the Council should pay Mr X £9,000. This is £350 a month (£8,400) for a delay of at least two years in the Council taking action to help the family find suitable accommodation.  The other £600 is for the delay in taking a new homeless application; and the time, trouble, frustration and distress it has caused.
  • We also recommend the Council confirms to us in future it will follow the law and not automatically end its duty to store the belongings of people it has found intentionally homeless.

Ombudsman satisfied with Council's response: 20 July 2018

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