Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 26 Mar 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mrs X complained about the Council over-valuing some land which she wished to buy from it in 2015. The Ombudsman should not exercise his discretion to investigate this complaint. This is because the Council gave its valuation of the land in 2015 and there is no obligation for it to sell at a lower value or sell the land at all.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mrs X, complains about the Council’s valuation of a piece of land which she wishes to buy as unreasonable. She says the Council should negotiate a lower price with her based on a more realistic valuation.
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)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered all the information which Mrs X submitted with her complaint and she has commented on the draft decision.
What I found
- Mrs X’s property borders with an area of land to which the Council has established ownership. In 2014, she made an offer to buy the plot so that she could extend her property and build a new house on it. In August 2015, the Council gave her a valuation price of £150,000 for the plot, without a guarantee of planning permission.
- Mrs X employed a surveyor and in early 2016 offered the Council £50,000 for the plot which she considers realistic. The Council rejected her offer telling her that the plot was worth its valuation and the basis used was the value of other plots sold previously. The Council has continued to maintain its valuation and says it will not sell at a loss to the public purse.
- Mrs X complained to the Ombudsman in February 2018, which is outside the normal twelve-month period. The Ombudsman will not exercise discretion to investigate this complaint because it is not our role to provide an independent valuation of land. It is several years since the original valuation and this may have changed since that time. The Council is not obliged to sell land to Mrs X even if she offers the valuation price; that is a matter for the Council to decide.
- The Ombudsman should not exercise his discretion to investigate this complaint. This is because the Council gave its valuation of the land in 2015 and there is no obligation for it to sell at a lower value or sell the land at all.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman