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Watford Borough Council (19 020 175)

Category : Housing > Homelessness

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 18 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: A tenant complained about her landlord’s failure to resolve issues of anti-social behaviour, noise and disrepair which affected her. But the Ombudsman cannot investigate this matter. This is because the tenant’s landlord is a housing association, and we have no jurisdiction to consider complaints against housing associations.

The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate. In particular we investigate complaints about councils and certain other bodies. But we cannot investigate the actions of social housing landlords such as housing associations. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 25 and 34A, as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Miss X provided with her complaint. I also took account of the Council’s response to my enquiries in Miss X’s case.

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What I found

  1. A few years ago Miss X became homeless and applied to the Council for help with housing.
  2. The Council accepted it owed Miss X the main housing duty under the homelessness legislation, which meant it had to secure accommodation for her. The Council fulfilled this duty by arranging a two-year assured shorthold tenancy of a property (‘property 1’) managed by a housing association (‘the Association’)
  3. Sometime later Miss X needed to move from property 1. At that point the Association arranged for her to move to another of its properties (‘property 2’) under a new one-year assured shorthold tenancy.
  4. But shortly after moving into property 2 Miss X reported to the Association that she was being disturbed by noise and other ASB from some of her neighbours and their visitors.
  5. Miss X continued to report ASB incidents on a regular basis over many months. Miss X said she had to stay away from property 2 at times because the problems were so bad.
  6. The Association investigated Miss X’s concerns but concluded there was insufficient evidence of ASB to justify it taking any enforcement action.
  7. Later on Miss X complained to the Association about disrepair to the windows and dampness in property 2. The Association carried out several inspections over time. But they found no damp or structural issues and that the windows were in good repair.
  8. Miss X made a formal complaint to the Association about these matters. But they did not uphold her complaint.
  9. Later the Association served a notice on Miss X to end her tenancy. She then made a new homelessness application to the Council. Subsequently the Council helped Miss X move to alternative private rented accommodation.

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Analysis

  1. Miss X approached the Ombudsman on the understanding that the Council had overall responsibility for the management of property 2. In particular, the Association had indicated that Miss X’s tenancy of property 2 was a continuation of an arrangement for them to provide her with temporary accommodation on behalf of the Council under a homelessness duty.
  2. However it is now clear that the Council’s homelessness duty in Miss X’s case ended when it arranged the offer of property 1, and it had no ongoing responsibility for her housing from that point.
  3. In addition the Council confirmed it played no part in Miss X’s subsequent move from property 1 to property 2. The Council said this was an arrangement between Miss X and the Association. The Council only became involved again in Miss X’s case after the Association gave her notice to leave property 2 and she made a new homelessness application.
  4. In the circumstances I have decided we cannot investigate Miss X’s complaint about the way the Association dealt with ASB, noise and disrepair issues in her case. This is because the Association was responsible for the management of Miss X’s property at the time, and we have no jurisdiction to consider complaints about the actions of housing associations.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman cannot investigate Miss X’s complaint about her landlord’s failure to resolve issues of ASB, noise nuisance and disrepair which affected her as a tenant. This is because Miss X’s complaint relates to the actions of a housing association, and we have no jurisdiction to consider complaints about housing associations.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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