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London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham (19 017 679)

Category : Housing > Homelessness

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 13 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman has discontinued his investigation of this complaint about the suitability of temporary accommodation. This is because the complainant has the right to request a review.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to as Miss X, complaint about the suitability of her temporary accommodation, namely the condition of the property.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), 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 would be reasonable for the person to ask for a council review or appeal. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I reviewed the information provided by the Council and discussed the complaint with Miss X. I sent a draft of this decision to Miss X and the Council for comments.

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What I found

  1. Miss X made a homelessness application to the Council in September 2019. The Council placed her into interim accommodation as it had reason to believe she was homeless, eligible and in priority need as she was pregnant. This was a self-contained studio flat.
  2. In November 2019 Miss X’s social worker reported Miss X was having issues with the heating and hot water at the property. Miss X had reported this to the owner of the property but the issues were still ongoing. The Council contacted the owner of the property who advised Miss X would need to clear the debt on the meter or contact the gas company to manually do this.
  3. At the end of December 2019, the Council provided Miss X with a decision on her homeless application and decided it owed her a full housing duty. The letter provided to Miss X told her about her right to request a review of her current accommodation.
  4. Miss X says there are further issue with the property, namely there is mould and dampness and issues with the electrical sockets and hob oven.

Analysis

  1. When Miss X first contacted the Ombudsman, it was not clear whether the Council had owed her the full housing duty.
  2. We contacted the Council who confirmed Miss X had been owed the full housing duty and provided evidence in the form of a letter confirming this. The letter advised Miss X of her right to request a review of her current accommodation.
  3. People who have been owed the full housing duty by the Council can request a review of the suitability of accommodation provided by the Council. The Ombudsman expects people to use these rights and would generally not investigate complaints about the suitability of temporary accommodation where there is the option to request a review with the Council.

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Final decision

  1. I have discontinued my investigation as Miss X has the right to request a review of the suitability of the accommodation the Council has provided to her.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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