Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 08 Feb 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mr X complained about the Council’s failure to accept responsibility for defective workmanship in insulation works which were part of an energy efficiency scheme. The Ombudsman should not exercise his discretion to investigate this complaint. This is because the complaint was made outside the normal 12-month period for accepting complaints and it concerns legal liability for negligence
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, complains about the Council not accepting responsibility for defective insulation panels which were fitted to his home as part of an energy efficiency scheme in 2012. He wants it to pursue the contractor to restore his home to the state it was before the insulation works.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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)
- The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone could take the matter to court. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to go to court. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered all the information which Mr X submitted with his complaint. I have also considered the Council’s response and Mr X has commented on the draft decision.
What I found
- Mr X and his neighbours took part in an energy efficiency scheme to improve the insulation of their homes by adding cladding. The scheme was proposed and carried out in 2012. It was funded by the energy providers through a levy imposed by the government. The scheme was delivered by a private energy company who employed a sub-contractor for the work.
- Mr X and his neighbours complained about faulty panels causing water ingress in 2015 and involved their Member of Parliament with the company. The company went into receivership in 2015 without rectifying the defective panels. Mr X complained to the Council because it and another council were involved in the promotion of the scheme. The Council says it has no responsibility for the work and that they should pursue the sub-contractor who installed the panels.
- Mr X and his neighbours were aware of the defects in 2015 but did not complain to us until 2018. They say they were not made aware of all the details of responsibility when they signed the agreement for the scheme in 2012. They are private householders and were responsible for understanding any agreement which they entered into with a company working on their property.
- The Council was not responsible for the works and its building control involvement was minimal for this kind of work which was understood by the contractors. The Ombudsman cannot determine who is responsible for defective work to private property.
- The Ombudsman should not exercise his discretion to investigate this complaint. This is because the complaint was made outside the normal 12-month period for accepting complaints and it concerns legal liability for negligence.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman