Case Study 39: Destruction of car -Formally resolved

Miss R complained that the landlord removed her car from the estate it was parked on and subsequently destroyed it. She also complained about how the landlord dealt with her complaint about the matter.

The landlord’s policy on Estate Parking Management required untaxed vehicles to display a valid Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN), issued by the DVLA, whilst parked on the estate. Whilst Miss R had obtained a SORN, it was not displayed on the car.

The landlord then put a Notice on the car, which stated that it was parked illegally, and should be removed immediately or it would arrange removal and would recharge Miss R for the cost of doing so. It gave a period of seven days to remove it. However the landlord’s contractors removed the car two days after the notice had been left on it and the car was subsequently destroyed.

The landlord told us that the Notice was an instruction to its contractors to remove the car. Given the wording of the notice, this was not a reasonable conclusion to reach; the Notice was clearly not an instruction to its contractor but had been directed towards the owner of the car.

We acknowledged that the landlord’s own policy allowed it to remove the car without any notice.  However as the notice issued had offered Miss R the opportunity either to remove the car or display the SORN, the landlord’s decision to remove the car on the second day was not reasonable.

We found that the landlord failed to address many of the issues that Miss R raised in her complaint to it about the matter. It also failed to escalate her complaint under its complaints procedure and it failed to respond to our requests to provide a final response.

We concluded that the car had been destroyed as a result of the landlord’s maladministration. We ordered it to pay Miss R £1,000 as compensation for allowing the car to be removed and destroyed and a further £250 for its failure to escalate her complaints and address the key issues raised in her correspondence.  The landlord accepted our findings and has made payment to Miss R.