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London Borough of Lambeth (19 016 384)

Category : Housing > Homelessness

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 12 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Ms X complained about the suitability of her temporary accommodation and the priority which the Council has given to her housing application. The Ombudsman should not exercise his discretion to investigate this complaint. This is because it concerns allocation of temporary accommodation in which Ms X was placed more than 12 months before she complained to the Ombudsman. We will not investigate her complaint about her housing priority because there is insufficient evidence of fault which would warrant an investigation.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Ms X, complains about the Council placing her in unsuitable temporary accommodation and about her banding priority on the housing waiting list.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)
  2. 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:
  • it is unlikely we would find fault, 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered all the information which Ms X submitted with her complaint.

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What I found

  1. Ms X was accepted as homeless by the Council and allocated temporary accommodation in 2016. She was accepted on the housing waiting list with a priority of Band C1 which is the default banding for homeless applicants in temporary accommodation. In 2019 asked the Council to review her application and provided medical information for consideration.
  2. The Council told her that her banding had not changed as a result of the review and she remains in Band C1. The Council gave her advice about how she might secure alternative accommodation outside the area, but she wants the Council to allocate her permanent social housing.
  3. We will not investigate her complaint about the suitability of her temporary accommodation. She was allocated this as long ago as 2016 and she could have appealed it at the time or complained to us. We will not exercise discretion to consider it now.
  4. The Council considered Ms X’s new information when it reviewed her application. She remains on the same banding as other homeless applicants in temporary accommodation. We do not investigate complaints just because the complainant feels they should be rehoused by a council. Unless there is fault in the assessment of the application we would not ask for the banding to be changed. We will not uphold a complaint if the council has followed proper procedures, relevant legislation and guidance and taken account of all the information provided.

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Draft decision

  1. The Ombudsman should not exercise his discretion to investigate this complaint. This is because it concerns allocation of temporary accommodation which Ms X was placed more than 12 months before she complained to the Ombudsman. We will not investigate her complaint about her housing priority because there is insufficient evidence of fault which would warrant an investigation.

Investigator’s final decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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