Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 20 Mar 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Miss X complained about the Council’s failure to repair the heating and hot water in her temporary accommodation for over 24 hours. The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of significant injustice arising from the Council’s failure to warrant an investigation.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Miss X, complains about the Council’s failure to respond properly to the loss of heating and hot water when the boiler failed in her temporary accommodation. She also lost power to her fridge freezer and believes the Council should compensate her for inconvenience and food which she had to throw away.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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 or continue with an investigation if we believe:
- the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement, or
- it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
- it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome.
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered all the information which Miss X submitted with her complaint. I have also considered the Council’s response and Miss X has commented on the draft decision.
What I found
- Miss X says the boiler in her temporary accommodation failed in December just a few days before her tenancy was due to start. She says she could not move in because the property was cold and she had to remain at her previous property. She says a power failure in the circuit supplying the fridge also resulted in lost food which she had stored in it.
- The Council has an out of hours repairs contractor but this property was not on their list so Miss X was referred to the private landlord who owns it. The loss of heating occurred the weekend prior to her tenancy commencing and so the duties on the landlord to carry out repairs under Landlord and Tenant Act legislation did not apply until the Monday start date.
- The landlord’s contractor repaired the boiler on the first day of the tenancy. Miss X says the boiler failed on more than three occasions in 10 days, although this time it was repaired within reasonable times. She says she is not convinced the boiler has been serviced and the Council should compensate her for her losses.
- The Council apologised about the failure to include the property on its contractors list and it has rectified this. Miss X’s tenancy had not commenced when the first breakdown took place even though she had the keys. The requirements of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 did not apply. It is at the Council’s discretion to decide whether any compensation should be offered to Miss X.
- The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because there is insufficient evidence of significant injustice arising from the Council’s failure to warrant an investigation.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman