Case Study 21: Disrepair and compensation
Ms O complained about the landlord’s handling of her reports of mould, damp and condensation. She also complained about its subsequent offer of compensation.
When Ms O reported the problems the landlord inspected the property and took steps to improve the airflow and ventilation. It also provided Ms O with information about managing the condensation issue in her property. Although a survey in March 2011 indicated there may be some structural issues contributing to the problem no evidence was provided by the landlord that it had investigated the issues any further.
When we investigated the complaint, we found that there was service failure by the landlord because it failed to investigate the possibility that the external factors identified by the survey were contributing to the conditions at Ms O’s home. The landlord therefore missed an opportunity to address her concerns in full. In addition the landlord did not identify this omission when it reviewed its handling of Ms O’s complaint. At the final stage of the landlord’s complaints process, the panel found that there was no evidence that mould was caused by a fault with the structural integrity of the property and that reasonable measures had been taken by the landlord to provide advice and guidance on managing condensation. The panel acknowledged that on several occasions Miss O’s correspondence was not responded to by staff within a reasonable time frame. It offered her a discretionary gift of vouchers to the value of £30.
We made a second finding of service failure by the landlord because it was not clear that the representation of the facts at the panel hearing was fair, given the content of the surveyor’s report that structural issues may have contributed to the problem. By not investigating this further the landlord missed a further opportunity to fully address Ms O’s concerns. Because of this we ordered the landlord to pay her additional compensation of £50.
With regard to damaged possessions, the landlord decided that there was insufficient evidence that any personal items were damaged as a result of the living conditions so compensation could not be awarded. This was a fair response because it would not reasonably be expected to pay compensation for damaged goods when there was no evidence that supported a connection between its service failures with the damaged items.