The Housing Ombudsman has made a finding of severe maladministration about Abri Homes’ complaint handling on a case that resulted in significant detriment to a vulnerable resident. The landlord failed to resolve issues with the resident’s leaking shower in a timely and efficient manner, leaving the vulnerable resident without adequate washing facilities at his home a number of times and having to leave his home to temporary accommodation, which was not always suitable for his needs.
The resident, who has significant health and mobility issues, reported his shower leaking, including flooding. Each time it was repaired, there continued to be issues with the shower leaking. He was moved to temporary accommodation on five occasions. At least once this was unsuitable as it had no grab rails and access.
Our investigation found there was considerable delay in progressing the resident’s complaint through the landlord’s complaints procedure and the formal complaint responses did not address the full extent of the issues raised by the resident. In addition, we issued a Complaint Handling Failure Order as the landlord failed to provide information requested that it considered essential to the formal investigation of the case. These factors amounted to a finding of severe maladministration on the landlord’s complaint handling and a significant award of compensation was considered both reasonable and proportionate to reflect the resident’s experience.
We ordered the landlord to pay the resident £3,000 in compensation to cover expenses, damaged possessions and the distress and inconvenience he experienced.
Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “It is evident that the resident experiences severe mobility issues and is reliant on his representative in completing daily activities. As such, resolving his repair issues in an effective and timely manner was essential.
“The landlord’s formal response focused on the level of financial redress but failed to respond to all the issues raised by the resident. It missed the opportunity to review the case in a holistic manner, with the resident placed at the centre. Had it done this promptly, the landlord might have recognised the extent of the resident’s detriment and arrived at an appropriate resolution.
“I welcome the improvements Abri have made in light of this case, and encourage other landlords to consider the learning this case offers for their own services.”
In cases of severe maladministration, we invite the landlord to provide a short statement on the lessons it has learned following the decision.
Comment from Abri:
“We’re very sorry that, on this occasion, we didn’t meet the high standards we’ve set for ourselves in dealing with customer concerns.
“We’ve completed a full investigation into the handling of this complaint. Since January 2021, our policies and processes have been aligned with the Housing Ombudsman’s new Complaint Handling Code. Unfortunately, human error meant that an old process was followed for this particular case instead of the new one. This was a localised incident and does not reflect our well-defined complaints process, internal procedures, high professional standards and adherence to the new code.
“We’ve learnt from this case and have taken the following steps to put things right:
- We’ve apologised to our customer and are continuing work closely with them to explore and support future options for their specific needs.
- We’ve introduced enhanced controls, additional colleague training, and quality assurance with immediate effect to make sure administrative errors like this don’t happen again.
- We’re using this complaint as a wider case study internally to make sure colleagues understand the importance of complying with the new code, and we’re keeping the Housing Ombudsman updated with our progress.
“As a member of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme, we’re keen to continue working closely with the Housing Ombudsman to review and improve our working practices. We take matters of this kind very seriously and want our customers to have confidence that we listen, learn and take prompt action to put things right.”