Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 19 Mar 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the service of an Improvement Notice. This is because Mr X had a right to appeal against the Notice but chose not to exercise that right.
- Mr X says the Council served him with an Improvement Notice for a property he owns. This attracted a charge of £286.75. He says the tenants left shortly afterwards, therefore the improvements were not necessary. He wants the Council to cancel the charge.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
- The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone can appeal to a tribunal. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to appeal. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(a), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information provided by Mr X, including the Council’s response to him. He had the opportunity to comment on the draft version of this decision.
What I found
- A Council has a duty under the Housing Act 2004 to act regarding hazards it finds in privately rented properties.
- Mr X says in May his father told the Council the tenants would shortly be leaving and the property would be put up for sale.
- In June, the Council issued an Enforcement Notice requiring Mr X to carry out improvement works. Mr X had a right of appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal if he disagreed with the Notice.
- A Council officer visited the property in July and noted the tenants were still living at the property but the improvement work had not been completed. Mr X says the tenants left the property later that month.
- In August, the Council sent Mr X a reminder for him to pay the outstanding amount of £286.75. Mr X says the Council has continued to chase him for payment.
- Where someone could get a resolution of their complaint from another body, the Ombudsman expects people to use that route. Where alternative rights of redress exist, we usually expect people to use them.
- Mr X had a right of appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal on the improvement notices when the Council issued it. The Council says it told Mr X about his appeal rights at the time. No appeal was made. Mr X is a landlord and I consider it was reasonable for him to have used his right of appeal to challenge the Notice.
- I will not investigate this complaint. This is because Mr X had a right of appeal at the time the Improvement Notice was issued but decided not to exercise that right.
Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman