Case Study 39: Failure to provide cleaning service in sheltered housing - Formally resolved

Mrs T complained that the landlord cancelled the cleaning of her sheltered housing accommodation.

Mrs T was 92 years old and lived in a sheltered housing scheme which has resident staff. She complained that the landlord had previously arranged for her room to be cleaned, but this service had stopped. The landlord’s response was that it had stopped the cleaning of all residents’ rooms as this was not a service it provided in its other sheltered schemes and was not included in Mrs T’s rent.

In its final response to Mrs T’s complaint, the landlord acknowledged that Mrs T’s tenancy agreement included cleaning as a service to be provided by the landlord, but claimed that this did not mean that there was a ‘contractual commitment’ to provide this service.

Mrs T complained to the Ombudsman, relying on the wording of her tenancy agreement. She asked for an apology and for the cleaning to be reinstated.

We made enquiries into the wording of the tenancy agreement and the history of the cleaning arrangements at the scheme. As a result, the landlord acknowledged that Mrs T’s tenancy agreement differed from the agreements of other tenants and did include the cleaning of her own room, as well as the shared areas of the scheme. It therefore agreed to reinstate the cleaning of the room.

The Ombudsman found that there was maladministration by the landlord because it failed on a number of occasions to acknowledge that it was obliged to provide the cleaning service under the terms of the tenancy agreement. In addition it had never provided a clear explanation of why it believed that it could override the terms of the agreement.

The Ombudsman ordered the landlord to confirm that it had reinstated the cleaning service and to refund the part of Mrs T’s rent that covered cleaning, for the period that she was without this service. We also ordered the landlord to pay Mrs T £250 for any distress she may have experienced. Lastly we recommended that the landlord send Mrs T a written apology. We also recommended that it consider how it could put matters right where there had been a service failure and more generally learn from complaints to provide a better service to other tenants.