Severe maladministration for Nottingham City Homes as repairs failings had ‘seriously detrimental impact’ on disabled resident

2 March 2023

The Ombudsman has found severe maladministration for Nottingham City Homes’ response to various repairs in a disabled residents’ home, including excess cold and allowing water to leak in through doors for two years.

Photograph of various tools and wooden house

We found severe maladministration for Nottingham City Homes as it left numerous repairs jobs outstanding, including a water leak coming in through its doors for over two years. This had an “evident effect” on both the resident and her daughter.

A few weeks after moving into her new-build home the resident, who has respiratory problems and PTSD, brain trauma and memory loss, reported that rainwater was coming in through the front and rear doors and that there were issues with the windows. Poor records from the landlord meant repairs were not noted and concerns with the windows and doors continued.

The landlord undertook a survey and found that the doors were in poor state of disrepair. However, another delay in fixing the issue followed as a breakdown in communication meant the contractor misunderstood the brief. Despite not making repairs to ensure water was not coming in through the doors, the landlord said it would not replace them as they were safe and usable.

These delays meant the resident was left with water coming into her home for two years.

Separate repairs to the cladding, cleaning of the gutters and fitting gutter guards and loft insulation also took time to complete, with the resident having to chase the landlord six months later, causing frustration and inconvenience.

While a boiler problem in the home was fixed after a month, the resident reported other heating issues including with the radiators and that the home was “excessively cold”. Five months after telling the resident that there was nothing wrong with them, the landlord conceded that the radiators were not the correct size.

Finally, when the resident reported that the toilet was unusable, it did not treat the repair as an emergency or seek alternative arrangements for the resident and her daughter. This left them without the use of a toilet in their own home.

At the time of the investigation, there were still a number of repairs outstanding which the landlord has been ordered to fix by the Ombudsman.

We also ordered the landlord to apologise and pay the resident £2,120 in compensation and to improve the information and process of enacting a defects liability warranty claim on new build developments.  The Ombudsman ordered that the report be shared with the landlord’s governing body.

The landlord said in its learning from the case it has undertaken a comprehensive review of systems and processes, as well as running training for staff on latent defects.

Read the report

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “This is another example of where a landlord’s service failures were compounded because it responded neither sensitively, nor reasonably, to a resident presenting clear health needs. This is an emerging theme in our casework and a cause of considerable concern.

“In this case, the series of significant service failings have had an especially detrimental impact on a vulnerable resident and shows the landlord did not take her concerns seriously.

“The landlord failed to provide a service in line with its obligations under the tenancy and had disregard for good practice in dealing with the defects highlighted by the resident.

“I welcome the landlord’s response on its learning from this case and the changes being made to improve its service. I would encourage other landlords to consider the learning the case offers for their own services.”

In all cases of severe maladministration, we invite the landlord to share its learning from the case.

Nottingham City Homes learning statement

On this occasion we failed to deliver the high level of customer service standards that we continually strive to meet for our customers. We unreservedly apologise for the poor level of communication and service standards to our customer and have worked relentlessly since being presented with the findings to ensure we learn from this case and implement service improvements.

It is important to us that as a learning organisation, who put our customers at the heart of everything we do, we use such important feedback from both the Ombudsman services and the customer’s experience to good use in reflecting and improving things that went wrong.

The learning in this particular case was around raising awareness and available information relating to Latent Defects. If there had been clearer internal staff pathways then these would have helped identify and signpost the issues raised in this case earlier resulting in a speedier resolution and understanding of the works being reported.

As a direct outcome of the case:

  • we now run a series of training workshops for colleagues in relation to information and awareness around Latent Defects
  • completed a comprehensive review of systems and processes to ensure appropriate data collection and accurate record keeping
  • implementation at an early stage a specific named person who will act a single point of contact where different services are involved and to agree a collaborative approach from a service perspective.