Case Study 12 : Housing application to a Co-operative

Ms R complained that her housing application to a Housing Co-operative (the Co-op) was not dealt with appropriately.

Ms R was offered a flat, but when she viewed it she had concerns about the condition of the property and the rent level. She contacted the Chair of the Co-op about the rent and repairs needed. He said that the rent was £165 per month less than the figure she had been told, that essential repairs would be carried out, and that the Co-op would provide correct information regarding the property. A week later Ms R had not heard anything further, and contacted the Co-op, only to be told that the offer had been withdrawn as she had not accepted it by the date that was given at the viewing.

Ms R complained to the landlord, which said that it would consider the matter at its next monthly committee meeting. However, despite several requests for updates from both Ms R and us, it did not respond to her complaint until ten months later. It then said that her application and property viewing had raised a number of issues in relation to conflicts of interest, in particular where she had contacted the Chair directly, and it suggested that she had tried to circumvent the allocations process.

We found that the landlord had not dealt appropriately with the housing application or Ms R’s complaint. Firstly, when it did finally respond, it did not address the concerns she had raised. Furthermore, although it made a number of allegations about her, it did not provide any evidence to support these or give her the opportunity to challenge its comments. We therefore ordered that it apologise to Ms R, pay compensation of £100, and either withdraw its allegations or provide supporting evidence.

In this case, the landlord did not treat Ms R fairly, by giving her an opportunity to comment on the allegations it was making, or providing any evidence as to how it had reached its conclusions. In addition its complaints process was not sufficiently focused on actually resolving the dispute, and the Co-op failed to use the opportunity to put things right. These failings were made worse by the significant delay in actually responding to the complaint.