Case Study 22: Service charges

Mr M is a sheltered housing tenant and complained about a number of issues in connection with his service charges.

Mr M complained about an overcharge for communal electricity; the cost of a handyman service; the inclusion of white goods; the management of the sinking fund; and consultation with residents. Six months after completing his landlord’s complaints procedure he told the Ombudsman that he remained unhappy, not least because the landlord had not yet acted on a number of earlier commitments aimed at resolving the situation. We asked the landlord to review its actions in the light of Mr M’s concerns and to meet him to talk about what it could or would now do to resolve the complaint.

We had to chase the landlord a number of times over the next few months - especially in relation to communicating with Mr M - but following a meeting he told us that they had ‘met halfway’ and he was satisfied that the complaint had now been resolved. That resolution included a rebate for an electricity overcharge.

As a result of our intervention the landlord reviewed its previous undertakings and acted on these to address Mr M’s concerns. We also had an opportunity to talk to the landlord about our dispute resolution principles and the importance both of following through on undertakings aimed at resolving a complaint and of keeping complainants updated. Mr M accepted the landlord’s response and expressed a desire to try and build a more constructive working relationship with the landlord.