Miss X complains about the suitability and affordability of the interim accommodation the Council placed her and her family in, between June 2017 and January 2018, while it made a decision on her homelessness application. She also complains the decision took too long.
The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault found causing injustice.
We welcome the fact the Council has agreed to the following recommendations to remedy the injustice caused as a result of the fault we have identified:
- Apologise to Miss X for providing her with unsuitable accommodation. The Council accepts the accommodation was overcrowded.
- Pay Miss X a financial remedy to account for five months that the family lived in unsuitable accommodation between 3 August 2017 and 15 January 2018. The Council has agreed to pay £1,500, which is calculated at £300 per month.
- Apologise to Miss X for the delays in dealing with her homelessness application. The Council agrees it delayed for two months of the three-month delay in deciding on Miss X’s homelessness application.
- Pay Miss X £100 for the avoidable frustration caused as a result of the delays in dealing with her homelessness application. The Council agrees it delayed for two months of the three-month delay in deciding on Miss X’s homelessness application.
- Review its progress in sourcing suitable and affordable accommodation in line with its 2014-2019 homelessness strategy. It should identify the action it needs to take to ensure a sufficient supply of suitable accommodation for homeless people. The Council reviewed its progress as part of its preparation for the Homelessness Reduction Act which came into force on 3 April 2018, and it has produced a new homelessness strategy for 2018-2022. This sets out its accommodation demands and its plans for sourcing further accommodation. We welcome the fact the Council has fulfilled this recommendation.
- Review the resources within its homelessness and temporary accommodation departments to ensure it can meet demand. The Council reviewed the departments’ resources in preparation for the Homelessness Reduction Act. It will keep staffing levels under review to ensure it considers its resources in line with demand when this becomes clearer, now this act has come into force. It provided evidence of its plans to train its staff in advance of this act coming into force. We welcome the fact the Council has fulfilled this recommendation.
The Council should also:
- Write to people already in accommodation identified as unsuitable. When the Council places a person in accommodation it knows is unsuitable it should advise them of this. The Council should also advise such households that they have a right to complain, and ultimately to bring the complaint to the Ombudsman. The Council says it will identify and write to any households living in overcrowded bed and breakfast accommodation. To meet this recommendation, it should look at all aspects of suitability, and not just overcrowding. The Council says it would not knowingly or deliberately place anyone in unsuitable accommodation, however this conflicts with our findings in Miss X’s case.
- The Council should provide us evidence it has taken the steps we have recommended.
Ombudsman satisfied with Council's response: 26 September 2018.