Case Study 20: Disrepair to electrical wiring

Mrs S complained to us about the condition of her electrical wiring following the landlord’s improvement works.

During improvement works there was a disagreement between Mrs S and the contractors which led them to stop work. Mrs S was concerned about the condition in which they left some electrical wiring, which she considered to be potentially dangerous.  She contacted the fire brigade and the electrical transmission company, both of whom inspected and raised concerns. Mrs S was without heating and hot water for five days until the landlord instructed its contractors to finish the works. 

In its response to Mrs S’s complaint the landlord offered compensation for the five days that Mrs S was without heating and hot water, but maintained that the wiring was not live and would not have been dangerous.

The Ombudsman was concerned that the landlord had focussed primarily on justifying its own actions rather than acknowledging the position in which Mrs S found herself when the contractors left the property. The landlord did not appear to have contacted either the fire brigade or the electricity company to get more information about their concerns. We therefore asked the landlord to revisit its own investigation and try to work with Mrs S to resolve her complaint.

As a result of our intervention the landlord met Mrs S to discuss the mistakes made and the best way forward. The landlord apologised to Mrs S and assured her that it would learn lessons from the situation. Mrs S accepted the landlord’s response and  expressed a desire to move on and put the matter behind her. 

In this case, resolution was achieved following a shift in the landlord’s approach, from one of justifying its actions to one of acknowledging its mistakes and seeking to put the matter right.