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Ombudsman finds social landlord guilty of maladministration in handling of request for information as part of sale of property

The Housing Ombudsman has recorded a finding of maladministration against a major social landlord for its handling of a shared owner’s request for information to enable her to complete the sale of her property including information on the building’s cladding.

The finding against L&Q was revealed in the Ombudsman’s latest batch of published decisions.

The Ombudsman found that although L&Q had taken some appropriate steps, it failed to provide information that it could reasonably have been expected to provide and, given the resident’s difficult situation, it should have taken her individual circumstances into account when making its decision.

L&Q was ordered to apologise, pay £400 compensation, provide the outstanding information and consider any other actions it could take to assist the resident.

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The investigation also found that the social landlord did not have a reverse staircasing policy. The Housing Ombudsman ordered L&Q to reconsider its position on reverse staircasing in exceptional circumstances. The social landlord has now produced a policy on reverse staircasing.

The Housing Ombudsman highlighted two other cases, one involving a local authority:

  • A case concerning the level of compensation Peabody (202014120) offered following a resident’s complaint about its handling of a leak where the Housing Ombudsman used its mediation process to resolve the dispute. The landlord had acknowledged its shortcomings in delivering the service and offered compensation totalling £2,223.89. The resident was not satisfied with the resolution and wanted Peabody to also cover the full cost of carpet installation at £1,200. Both the landlord and resident agreed to engage in the mediation process. The landlord agreed to pay an additional £600 for the cost of the carpet replacement.
  • In a case about Birmingham City Council (201910688) the Housing Ombudsman found there was no maladministration for the resident’s reports about repairs or damage to property as the landlord had taken appropriate steps to identify the repairs it was responsible for and arranged works. It had also given the resident a compensation form to make a financial claim. However, the Ombudsman found service failure as the landlord’s final response on the complaint was not comprehensive and it had not kept records of its repair actions. In addition to ordering the landlord to pay compensation and update the resident on any outstanding work, the Ombudsman recommended the landlord review its repairs and complaints record keeping, and its complaint handling in line with good practice and the Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “Our online casebook continues to grow providing valuable insight and learning for the sector, in addition to our range of reports highlighting lessons on specific issues for landlords.

“Two of the cases included here refer to our thematic Spotlight reports. One of the three key actions in our Spotlight report on Dealing with cladding complaints was the need to address residents’ individual circumstances and, where appropriate, to exercise discretion as with other complaints. I welcome that, in complying with our order, the landlord in this case has introduced a reverse staircasing policy. In our Spotlight report on Complaints about repairs we emphasised the importance of addressing all issues raised in a complaint and the need for clear, accurate and easily accessible record keeping.

“I would encourage landlords to make use of all the resources available on our website and benefit from lessons learned that we share across the sector.”

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