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Thanet District Council (17 016 511)

Category : Other Categories > Land

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 28 Feb 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint about the Council’s management of one of its residential properties as it is outside our legal remit. We would consider it reasonable to expect Miss Y to take legal action against the Council for compensation for the damage she says the Council caused to her property.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Miss Y, complains a Council owned tree in the neighbouring property has caused damage to her garden walls. Miss Y complains the Council also removed her garden wall and gate without her permission.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We cannot investigate complaints about the provision or management of social housing by a council acting as a registered social housing provider. (Local Government Act 1974, paragraph 5A schedule 5, as amended)
  2. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered what Miss Y said in her complaint.

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What I found

  1. Miss Y lives next door to a council owned residential property. Miss Y says that a tree in the garden of that property has caused damage to her garden walls. Miss Y says the Council’s tenant reported the issue several times but nothing was done.
  2. Miss Y wrote to the Council asking it to remove the tree and make good the damage. Miss Y says instead the Council came and removed her garden wall and fence without permission. Miss Y wants recompense for this and for the tree to be removed.

Analysis

  1. The law does not allow us to investigate complaints about how the Council manages its social housing. Miss Y’s complaint about how the Council responded to her complaint about the tree falls under this category and so is outside our legal remit.
  2. Miss Y has the right to take legal action against the Council for any damage it has caused to her property by making a money claim in the courts. As this right exists, the complaint is outside our legal remit.
  3. We have discretion to disapply this if we consider it is not reasonable to expect Miss Y to go to court. There is a simple, low cost procedure open to anyone to make a money claim. In addition, ultimately, only the courts can decide if the Council is legally liable for Miss Y’s loss and whether compensation should be paid. For these reasons, we consider it is reasonable to expect Mrs Y to take legal action and we will not therefore exercise discretion to investigate.

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Final decision

  1. We cannot investigate as the law does not allow us to investigate how the Council manages its social housing. Miss Y also has the right to seek compensation in the courts and we consider it reasonable to expect her to do so.

Investigator’s final decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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