Case Study 14: Local resolution & reasonable redress

Ms R complained to her landlord (the local council) because it failed to carry out repairs to her stairs, plastering, boiler and flooring after its surveyors had visited on several occasions. When it also failed to respond to Ms R’s formal complaint within its published timetable, she contacted us for help.

The purpose of a complaints process is to review the service a landlord is providing in response to the concerns raised by its residents. We asked the landlord to respond to Ms R’s complaint using this process because it would be the quickest way to investigate the reported disrepair. As a result the council acknowledged there had been service failures, offered £250 in compensation and agreed to complete the outstanding works.

Ms R contacted the landlord eight weeks after its formal response to explain that some of the repairs remained outstanding and that she felt the compensation was insufficient due to the damage and inconvenience caused by taking up her flooring several times.

The Housing Ombudsman can help landlords and tenants use the complaints process to try and resolve any dispute. We spoke to Ms R to clarify what repairs she thought were outstanding, and what action she wanted to resolve the complaint. We then spoke to the landlord to try and clarify its position. Following the conversation, it confirmed when the remaining works would be completed and offered to increase the compensation to £400 in recognition of the continued delay. It also said it would consider whether any more compensation would be appropriate after the works were completed so that it could ensure its overall response fairly reflected what had gone wrong.

The council contacted us a month later to confirm the repairs had been completed and that Ms R had been offered £400 compensation. Ms R was not satisfied with this offer, therefore to help resolve the complaint we asked that both parties provide more of an explanation. We asked the landlord to explain how its offer had been calculated so that Ms R could consider it in more detail, and we asked Ms R to explain why she felt she should be paid £1000. We also explained that compensation is not a punitive measure and that any offer should be based on published policies and proportionate to the individual circumstances of the case.

The landlord provided a breakdown of its compensation offer and in doing so also reassessed the offer to include the more recent delays. This new offer was for £600 which Ms R accepted based on the landlord’s increased explanation.

By discussing the complaint with both parties, and helping them to explain their position, we were able to help resolve this complaint. We will try to resolve complaints locally with tenants and landlords where we think it might be possible, either during the landlord’s complaints procedure or even after it has been completed.