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04/05/2010

Disrepair Quantum – Ombudsman

Local Government Ombudsman Report
Report ref 09 005 422

Harlow District Council

Ms S was Harlow’s secure tenant. Due to a leak, the ceiling in her daughter’s bedroom became damaged, in danger of falling and unsafe. Despite Ms S’s complaints, Harlow did not carry out repairs for 18 months, during which time her daughter either had to share her bedroom, sleep on the sofa or stay with friends. The daughter also had no private place to study, which affected her college work. Harlow denied liability for the cost of repairs, as did their contractors’ insurers, although the works concerned fell clearly under Harlow’s repairing obligations under the tenancy agreement.

The Ombudsman found that Harlow had:

– delayed unreasonably in carrying out the repairs;
– failed to keep her informed;
– did not deal with her Stage One complaint;
– did not make arrangements for covering the duties of an officer who was absent on long-term sick leave; and
– failed to take the actions it promised.

The Ombudsman recommended Harlow pay £4,500 compensation.

Hat tip to the Garden Court Bulletin for pointing this one out. Although we don’t have details like the level of rent or how the Ombudsman arrived at the figure in any detail, this is a rather more realistic (higher) level of compensation than often results from complaints to the Ombudsman. £3000 per annum is still perhaps a bit low, but better. However, it is expressed to include Ms S’s time and effort in pursuing her complaint, so perhaps not as encouraging as all that on level of compensation.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

2 Comments

  1. simply wondered

    for me the most significant factor is that it gives people an option for the lower value claims. at the law centre, time after time the rsl(or whatever bloody silly name they now have)’s lawyers try to push it to small claims level so we can’t help.

    Reply
    • NL

      True, but where, as here, the works were still outstanding at the time Ms S made her complaint to the ombudsman, it only needed either works or damages to be over £1000 to be fast track – both clearly were over £1000 in this case. And, where works are at issue, the Ombudsman’s recommendations are pretty much unenforceable.

      Reply

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