January 17, 2024 11:41 am

Insert Lead Generation
Nikka Sulton

The Housing Ombudsman, tasked with evaluating concerns related to social housing landlords, has uncovered instances of severe maladministration in four cases involving Croydon council. In Case A, a critical lapse occurred during a kitchen and bathroom upgrade, where the landlord mismanaged the process. The resident was led to believe that the landlord would undertake additional works beyond the recommendations of an occupational therapist, with the condition that she covered the expenses, to which she agreed. This situation has prompted the Housing Ombudsman to emphasize the need for Croydon council to use these challenges as an opportunity to enhance and deliver improved services.

These findings highlight the importance of addressing systemic issues within social housing management, urging a proactive approach from Croydon council. By rectifying the lapses identified by the Housing Ombudsman, the council has the chance to not only rectify past errors but also instigate positive changes that contribute to a more efficient and resident-focused social housing service.

The landlord’s awareness of the resident’s physical and mental conditions did not translate into effective consideration or corrective actions, missing multiple opportunities to address the situation. The failure to adhere to procedures, lack of knowledge, and delays in investigating the case negatively impacted the resident’s daily life significantly. Additionally, the landlord provided incorrect information to the resident, stating that the adaptations would not be undertaken at one point, underscoring the adverse effects of their procedural shortcomings on clear communication.

Furthermore, the landlord’s failure to present essential evidence, such as emails, call logs, and notes from visits, hindered the demonstration of appropriate handling of the resident’s upgrade and adaptation requests for the kitchen and bathroom. In response to these shortcomings, the Ombudsman mandated the landlord to compensate the resident with £3,875 and arrange for a comprehensive occupational therapist assessment of the entire property. Subsequent adaptations required as per the assessment were also mandated to be promptly addressed by the landlord.

In Case B, the Ombudsman identified severe maladministration as the landlord neglected a victim-centred approach and did not address the resident’s complaints of anti-social behavior, including indirect racial harassment. The lack of consistent communication and failure to collaborate with partner agencies promptly demonstrated a significant shortcoming in the landlord’s approach.

Despite repeated reports and the resident’s explicit mention of the detrimental impact on her mental health, the landlord overlooked conducting a risk assessment and showed little empathy toward her concerns about participating in court proceedings as a witness. The resulting delays and deficiencies prolonged the resident’s distress, with the ongoing complaints spanning nearly five years by the conclusion of the investigation.

The Ombudsman mandated the landlord to compensate the resident with £2,900, requiring the housing director to issue a formal apology. Additionally, the landlord was instructed to conduct a comprehensive review of its Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) policy and procedures, placing specific emphasis on the efficacy of the risk assessment matrix and action plans.

In Case C, the Ombudsman identified severe maladministration in the landlord’s handling of noise nuisance, impacting the resident’s mental health. The landlord deviated from its anti-social behaviour policy, neglecting to keep the resident informed until her subsequent complaint, causing undue delay and distress.

Furthermore, the landlord took five years to provide necessary sound recording equipment, prompting an order from the Ombudsman to ensure its provision. The Ombudsman mandated the landlord to issue an apology, furnish the resident with a suitable device for accurate reporting, and compensate her with £900.

In Case D, the Ombudsman identified severe maladministration as delays in processing a mutual exchange application, coupled with inspection and repair delays, led to the cancellation of the exchange. Despite persistent follow-ups from the resident over months, the landlord failed to prioritize the necessary works, leaving the resident without a proper sleeping arrangement.

Acknowledging its fault, the landlord received an Ombudsman order, including a written apology from the Chief Executive, a £700 compensation payout, and a directive to review its mutual exchange process. The landlord claims to have implemented improvements, emphasizing compliance with the issued orders as part of its learning from this case.

Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway commented on the four cases, stating that the landlord needs to reflect on these instances and make substantial improvements to its services. The handling of complaints fell below residents’ expectations, and Blakeway urged the landlord to use this as an opportunity to enhance services for its residents, emphasizing the need for better communication and action, especially for residents with physical or mental health needs.

In response, Croydon council acknowledged significant failures in handling these cases and extended apologies to the affected residents. They highlighted their ongoing transformation journey to improve housing services, with the Housing Ombudsman’s work guiding them in identifying areas for enhancement. The council affirmed compliance with Ombudsman orders and outlined policy reviews and training programs as part of their commitment to improving services and preventing similar failures in the future.


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