Case Study 22: Disrepair - leaseholder property

Miss S complained about the damage caused to her leasehold flat by a leak from the property above. She also complained about the landlord’s handling of her formal complaint.

The landlord’s contractor carried out repair work to an empty property above Miss S’s flat. During the work a leak occurred, causing water penetration and damage to her property. As part of her complaint, Miss S claimed that the landlord had not followed relevant health and safety regulations. In response, we explained that the Ombudsman cannot determine matters of law; his role is to consider the appropriateness and adequacy of the landlord’s response to her complaint and make findings based on what is fair in all the circumstances of the case.

Following discussions with us, the landlord agreed to pay Miss S £250 for the cost of the works it had originally offered to undertake in her home but which she later carried out.  It also offered to meet Miss S to discuss any further evidence of costs she had incurred and consider whether it could offer her any more compensation.  Taken together we considered these offers appropriately addressed the complaint about the disrepair.    

We also found that there were no unreasonable delays in the landlord’s handling of Miss S’s complaint about the leak, and that the complaint was considered in line with the landlord’s policy and procedure.

However, we did find that there had been a service failure in the landlord’s response to a related issue, involving falling bricks/debris. This was because the landlord did not offer an apology or an explanation as to why this element of the complaint was overlooked for more than two months.

We made a further finding of service failure regarding the landlord’s handling of electrical works which were carried out to the empty flat above and affected Miss S’s property. There was an unreasonable delay in the landlord acknowledging problems caused by its electrical contractor. The landlord also gave no indication as to what follow up action it had taken in relation to its contractor and what measures it had put in place to prevent a recurrence.

In recognition of these service failures, we ordered the landlord to pay Miss S £250 in respect of the repair work (as previously agreed with the Ombudsman), plus £50 in recognition of the delays in addressing the complaint about the falling bricks, and £100 in recognition of the distress and inconvenience caused by the electrical works.

In addition, the Ombudsman ordered the landlord to inform Miss S of the changes it had made to its policies and procedures in light of the service failure involving its electrical contractor. To its credit, the landlord sought to meet Miss S in an effort to restore her confidence in its services.