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South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council (20 010 670)

Category : Planning > Building control

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 09 Mar 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mr Q’s complaint about the Council’s failure to take action regarding his neighbour’s new roof. This is because we are unlikely to find fault with the Council.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I have called Mr Q, complained about the actions of South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council’s Building Control Team. He said it failed to take action when his neighbour replaced his roof. Mr Q thought the new tiles were too heavy and the roof was unsafe.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mr Q provided. I considered the information the Council provided. I invited Mr Q to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

What happened

  1. Mr Q’s neighbour replaced his roof. Mr Q complained to the Council because he thought the new roof tiles were too heavy and the roof was unsafe. Mr Q gave the Council his calculations and evidence from his own roofer in support of his concerns.
  2. An officer from the Council’s Building Control Team inspected the roof. He wrote to Mr Q setting out his own calculations and explained why the Council would not take any action about his neighbour’s roof.
  3. Following further contact from Mr Q, the Council asked a structural engineer to inspect the roof. It asked the Structural Engineer to “advise [it] on the impact of any roofing changes to the structural integrity of the roof space of [the neighbour’s property] and the likelihood of impact to the adjacent property [Mr Q’s property]”.
  4. The Structural Engineer inspected the roof from the inside and outside of the neighbour’s property. He did not identify any concerns with the roof or recommend any remedial action. Nor did he find any evidence to suggest there was any harmful impact on Mr Q’s property.
  5. Mr Q brought his complaint to us. Mr Q believes the Council deliberately limited the scope of the Structural Engineer’s inspection so he would not take account of the weight of the new tiles.

Assessment

  1. We will not investigate this complaint.
  2. The Council inspected the neighbour’s roof and later asked a Structural Engineer to inspect it. I recognise the Council may not have specifically asked the Structural Engineer to take account of the weight of the new tiles. But I have seen no evidence to support Mr Q’s allegation that the Council deliberately limited the scope of the Structural Engineer’s inspection.
  3. The Council decided not to take any further action regarding Mr Q’s neighbour’s roof having taken account of its own inspection and that of a structural engineer. It is unlikely, therefore, that we would find fault with the Council for deciding not to take action regarding Mr Q’s neighbour’s roof.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we would find fault.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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