Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 31 Mar 2020
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms Q’s complaint about the actions of the Council’s Environmental Health Team. This is because we are unlikely to find fault. And the Housing Ombudsman Service is better placed to consider the complaint.
- The complainant, who I have called Ms Q, complained that Broxbourne Borough Council’s Environmental Health Team failed to take action against her landlord regarding her heating system and harassment.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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 is unlikely we would find fault, or
- there is another body better placed to consider this complaint.
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information Ms Q provided. I invited Ms Q to comment on a draft of this decision.
What I found
- A council’s environmental health team may take action against landlords when tenants complain about harassment or disrepair in their rented properties. Environmental Health Teams have no powers to act for leaseholders who complain about their freeholder.
- The Housing Ombudsman Service looks at complaints from tenants and leaseholders of housing associations and councils.
- Ms Q is a leasehold owner occupier of a property. The freeholder is a housing association. She complained to the Council’s Environmental Health Team about her heating system. She also said the Housing Association was harassing her.
- The Council told Ms Q it had tried to provide advice and assistance, but it had no power to intervene with the Housing Association. It advised her to complain to the Housing Ombudsman Service.
- We will not investigate this complaint.
- Ms Q is a leasehold owner occupier, so the Council’s Environmental Health Team has no power to take action against her freeholder. It is unlikely, therefore, that we would find fault with the Council for failing to take action.
- Ms Q’s freeholder is a housing association. The Housing Ombudsman Service looks at complaints from leaseholders of housing associations. So it is better placed to consider this complaint.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman