Case Study 49: Delays in repairing boiler and poor customer service - Locally resolved with intervention

Ms H complained about how her landlord dealt with repairs to her boiler that left her without heating and hot water for six days. Ms H is a disabled person who is largely housebound.

The landlord’s annual gas safety check found that the flue from the boiler was faulty. The engineer disconnected the boiler as a safety precaution and told Ms H that a repair would be completed within 48 hours, as she was a vulnerable person. Ms H accepted this as a reasonable response.

There followed a series of service failures by the landlord and its contractor including missed appointments, poor communication and poor record-keeping, which left Ms H without heating and hot water for six days. During this period Ms H made several calls to the landlord to chase the repair.

Ms H complained to the landlord about how she had been treated and asked for an explanation of the time taken to complete the repair. She was offered £35 compensation, but received no explanation. She therefore asked to escalate the complaint.

There were delays in the handling of the complaint and the landlord failed to respond to some of Ms H’s telephone calls and emails. Ms H therefore contacted the Ombudsman, asking us to help her to get a response from her landlord.

Although Ms H had not yet completed the landlord’s complaints procedure, we were able to contact the landlord and ask for a response. This led to the landlord sending Ms H a comprehensive letter apologising for the delays in both the repair and the handling of her complaint, explaining why the delays had occurred and what action had been taken to prevent similar problems in the future. The landlord also increased its compensation offer to £100. Ms H accepted this response and the case was closed.

This case demonstrates how intervention by the Ombudsman can help to improve communication between the parties and so resolve a complaint prior to completion of the landlord’s complaints procedure.