London-based housing association Inquilab has been given two severe maladministration findings from the Housing Ombudsman after a resident’s daughter was left with damp and mould in her room for two years.
The resident said that the leaks, and the repairs required to fix them, had rendered the bedroom unusable and had impacted their daughter’s physical and mental health.
The ombudsman said that the resident, who lives in Greater London, had been reporting the issues since early 2018 and that the landlord had failed to assess “the appropriate level of redress” for one of the bathrooms damaged beyond repair by mould.
There was also no evidence that the landlord had engaged in any investigation of the complaint by the resident, according to the ombudsman.
These two factors made up the double findings of severe maladministration from the ombudsman. It ordered the landlord to pay a total of £3,633 in compensation and conduct a senior management review into the case, including why it failed to carry out the required repairs at the property and failed to raise and respond to a formal complaint despite multiple interventions by the ombudsman.
The 1,300-home landlord was also ordered to provide a detailed schedule of works to deal with all the outstanding repairs and discuss the scale of the damage to the resident’s possessions, including the offer of redress.
Richard Blakeway, the housing ombudsman, said: “There were severe failings in this case. The resident had repeatedly contacted the landlord and felt it was not treating her concerns seriously. The landlord did not provide details of its plans to follow up and complete the repairs or to provide her with a reasonable response. It failed to demonstrate an awareness of the detriment which the resident was experiencing by its lack of action and lack of reasonable communication.
“The landlord failed to engage in the complaint despite prompts from our service, so lost opportunities to try and resolve it at a local level which the resident had agreed to.
“Following our decision, I welcome the landlord’s response on its learning from this case and the changes being made to improve its service. I would encourage other landlords to consider the learning this case offers for their own services.”
The ombudsman said that in cases of severe maladministration, the landlord is invited to provide a short statement on the lessons it has learned following the decision.
A statement from Inquilab said: “We are sorry for the level of service provided in this instance. Whilst the COVID pandemic brought challenges in maintaining our service levels as a result of the restrictions imposed by the government resulting in staffing and contractor issues, this should not have stopped our organisation from communicating better with our resident nor providing the assistance needed.
“As a part of our commitment to continuous service improvements, and the lessons learnt from this case, we: have implemented a new repairs integration system to provide better visibility of outstanding repairs to enhance the management of our repairs contract; have developed a new complaints procedure to improve complaint handling and installed a new complaints module within our Residents Portal; have invested in a new website which includes a dedicated residents section, and signposts to feedback and our complaints procedure; are providing further customer service training for our staff.
“These and other changes we are making will improve the services we provide to our customers.”
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