We have made a finding of severe maladministration against Milton Keynes Council after its inappropriate complaint handling led to a disabled resident and her son living with multiple repairs issues outstanding for years.
For its failures, we ordered the landlord to pay £5,500 in compensation.
The complaint relates to various repairs jobs that were not completed, with repairs logs showing at least 120 jobs raised for the one household alone over four years.
But it was the complaint handling where the Ombudsman found severe maladministration, with a host of issues hampering the resolution of the repairs issues.
Firstly, the landlord failed to raise the resident’s formal complaint when it came in, with a councillor’s attempts to chase a formal response also unsuccessful.
There were also then delays to both the stage one and two responses, despite the Ombudsman getting involved.
When it did respond, the landlord failed to provide a thorough investigation of its repairs handling and address the outstanding issues raised by the resident. On top of this, it failed to recognise the amount of time and the number of appointments it took to resolve some of the issues.
Linking to this, the landlord did not express any empathy towards the resident or recognise the impact on her child given their vulnerabilities. This was inappropriate, caused additional frustration and may have contributed to the resident’s accusation that she was being discriminated by the landlord based on her disability.
On top of the compensation, we ordered the landlord to apologise to the resident, carry out repairs and a damp and mould inspection and subsequent works arising from that report.
Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “A mother and her son, who both have disabilities, were not treated with the respect they deserved.
“Understandably, the family felt discriminated against because of the landlord’s poor communication, compounded by repeated failings on repairs.
“The landlord failed to respond within the timescales of the Complaint Handling Code and its policies, did not address the key failings within the case and continues to show few signs of learning from these errors.
“Whilst we often see landlords without repairs logs, this case shows the importance of not only recording data but using it as intelligence to ask questions about where services may be going wrong.”
We also found maladministration in how it handled repairs at the property and its record keeping for not keeping adequate repairs records or obtain any records from its contractors.
Our Spotlight report on Knowledge and Information Management sets out several recommendations for how landlords can get the above right.
In all cases of severe maladministration, we invite the landlord with an opportunity to provide a learning statement.
Milton Keynes Council learning statement
We recognise the decision; we apologise to the resident for their experience, and we have put actions in place to prevent these kinds of delays happening again.