William Eichler 11 January 2022

Council found guilty of ‘maladministration’ over leaky roof complaint

Council found guilty of ‘maladministration’ over leaky roof complaint   image

The London Borough of Ealing has said it is reviewing its working practices after the Housing Ombudsman found that it was guilty of ‘severe maladministration’.

A resident of the borough was forced to wait six years for a leaking roof to be replaced after arguing that it was causing damp and impacting on her health.

The council carried out a temporary repair of the roof and said that it would fix the leak in its next planned programme of works.

However, the resident complained that the temporary work was of a poor standard and that the leak was still causing damp which, in turn, impacted on her health and finances.

In response, the council said that there was a delay on its planned programme of works due to procurement issues and COVID-19. It failed to address the other issues raised by the resident.

The Ombudsman found severe maladministration for the landlord’s complaint handling and maladministration for its response to the resident’s reports about water coming into her flat and the repairs carried out.

The Ombudsman ordered the landlord to pay the resident compensation of £3,600.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: ‘It is clear that the resident experienced a significant detriment over an extended period of her time.

‘She encountered significant difficulty in progressing her complaint, even with our assistance, and did not receive a final response at any point. The landlord’s consideration of her complaint lacked customer focus. The fact that it chose to narrow the focus of the complaint just on the delay in the programme of works was a missed opportunity to address the resident’s points of dissatisfaction and resulted in a deterioration in the landlord and resident relationship.

‘While it was appropriate to complete temporary repairs and add the roofing works to its planned major works, the timeframe that the resident has been asked to wait for these works – approximately six years – to take place is not reasonable.

‘I welcome the opportunity the landlord has taken to learn lessons from this complaint and its actions to improve and prevent similar issues recurring. I would encourage other landlords to consider the?learning this case offers.’

A spokesperson for the London Borough of Ealing said: ‘Whilst we are disappointed at the persistent failure of service execution that have led to the Ombudsman’s determination of maladministration,?we welcome this as an opportunity to learn lessons, review our working practices, and put in place new measures to ensure there is not a repeat of the issues identified in this case.’

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