The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Miss B complained about the way the Council has dealt with her housing application. We cannot find fault with its actions.
- Miss B complains that Gravesham Borough Council (the Council) has failed to offer her properties on which she has bid and for which she has the highest priority.
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’. If there has been fault which has caused an injustice, we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26(1) and 26A(1), as amended)
- If we are satisfied with a council’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)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered the complaint and the documents provided by the complainant, made enquiries of the Council and considered the comments and documents the Council provided. I have written to Miss B and the Council with my draft decision and considered their comments.
What I found
- Miss B applied to go on the Council’s housing register in March 2018 as her landlord wished to sell the property she was renting. Initially the Council said she was not eligible as she had not lived in the borough for two years. Miss B provided information to show she was a carer for her mother and the Council changed its decision. Initially the Council placed her application in Band C (the third of four priority bands) on the grounds she was overcrowded as her property had three rather than four bedrooms.
- The Council then advised her that the landlord had failed to issue a valid notice and so Miss B was adequately housed as she did not need to leave her current property. She was placed in Band D (the lowest priority band) on the housing register.
- Following a meeting with the Council in August 2018 it agreed as a gesture of goodwill to put her back in Band C with effect from 20 March 2018.
- On 6 September 2018 Miss B moved in with a friend on a temporary basis. As she was now severely overcrowded she was placed in Band A and needs a four- bedroom property.
- Since that date she has bid on 16 three-bedroom properties. She was not placed first for any of them and the Council says it will not offer her a three-bedroom property as she will still be overcrowded.
- She has bid on four, five-bedroom properties and been placed first for all of them. The Council has not offered them to her as she only has a four-bedroom need.
- She has bid on four, four-bedroom properties and been placed second for each one. The properties have been offered to people who had been waiting in Band A for longer. One of these properties had an adapted bathroom and was specifically advertised as being for an applicant who required such an adaptation.
- The Council has dealt with Miss B’s application in accordance with its allocations policy. On the evidence provided I cannot identify any fault in the way it has dealt with her case. Miss B has been in Band A since September 2018 and eligible for a four-bedroom property. She appears to be near the top of the band as she has consistently been in second place for properties. Hopefully she will manage to secure housing soon. But this is dependent on the number of four-bedroom properties becoming available and other urgent cases which may arise.
- I have completed my investigation into this complaint as I am unable to find fault causing injustice in the actions of the Council towards Miss B.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman