Sunderland City Council (16 015 570)

Category : Housing > Private housing

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 21 Feb 2017

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about a roof repair in 1998 funded by a Council grant which is affecting the saleability of the property today. This is because any injustice from the alleged Council fault was not directly caused to Mrs Y, the complainant, but to her late mother, who was the owner of the property. In addition, given the time that has elapsed it would be improbable we could determine whether there was fault by the Council and the contractor who carried out the work would be ultimately responsible for any loss that arose from it. We cannot therefore achieve the outcome Mrs Y seeks which is for the Council to take responsibility for the repairs to the roof she will now have to carry out.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I shall refer to as Mrs Y, complains about problems she is experiencing selling her late mother’s house related to a roof repair which was funded by the Council in 1998.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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 alleged fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered the information Mrs Y supplied about her complaint.

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What I found

  1. Mrs Y explains about problems she is experiencing with the sale of her late mother’s property. In 1998, the Council gave Mrs Y’s mother a grant for work to be carried out to her roof to prevent slate slippage. This entailed a coating being applied under the slates. The property is for sale but Mrs Y explains that mortgage lenders will not offer a mortgage on it to prospective buyers because of the coating on the roof. Mrs Y says the roof will have to be renewed and she wants the Council to take responsibility for this.

Analysis

  1. We will not investigate this complaint. As the repair was carried out 19 years ago it is very unlikely we can determine if there was fault by the Council in signing off the work. In addition, as the Council has advised Mrs Y, it would be the contractor who carried out the work that would potentially be responsible for any loss or damage caused as a consequence of the work. Even if we did investigate therefore, it is unlikely we could achieve any meaningful outcome and not the outcome Mrs Y seeks.
  2. Moreover, we will not investigate because any injustice caused by the alleged fault was directly caused to Mrs Y’s mother not Mrs Y. Even if there were no restriction due to the passage of time and about who is responsible, we would not investigate because of this.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint as Mrs Y is not directly caused injustice by the alleged Council fault and we cannot achieve the outcome Mrs Y seeks.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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