Case Study 43: Repairs and complaints handling - Formally Resolved - Maladministration and Severe maladministration

Mr N complained to us about the way his landlord (a housing association) dealt with a leak in his bedroom wall and about the way the landlord handled his resulting complaint. Mr N brought his complaint to us after the landlord’s final response, and in our view local resolution was no longer possible so our role was to assess the way it had been handled and whether the response was fair.

The repair to the leak in the bedroom took 22 months to complete. We found that this delay was the result of maladministration by the landlord. In particular we identified that the landlord had failed to respond to Mr N’s reports and provided conflicting information about who was responsible for the repairs and when they would be completed. When works were finally arranged, the landlord cancelled the works at the last minute and failed to arrange an alternative appointment, increasing the delay.

As the complaint came to us once the repairs were completed we ordered the landlord to pay Mr N £1,100 for the inconvenience caused by the poor repair service.

We also found that there had been severe maladministration in the way the landlord dealt with Mr N’s complaint. The responses were delayed and did not follow the landlord’s own published policy. In addition, the landlord failed to escalate the complaint despite regular contact from the Ombudsman, and only did so once we notified it we intended to formally resolve the complaint by way of an investigation.  As a result we ordered the landlord to offer Mr N a further £400 in compensation in recognition of any distress and inconvenience he may have experienced while he was making his complaint.

This poor complaint handling reflected other complaints which had been submitted to us about that particular landlord. Continuing complaints about similar issues demonstrated the landlord was failing to work to our Dispute Resolution Principle that landlords learn from the outcomes of complaints. This continued failure over multiple complaints contributed to the more serious finding of severe maladministration because while we consider complaints on a case by case basis, we do so within the context of the landlord’s wider performance.