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Pests and gas safety cases feature in latest Insight report as determination numbers rise

12 September 2023

The Ombudsman has released its Insight report reflecting on the first quarter of this year, learning from pest infestation cases, gas safety and emerging trends from its frontline caseworkers.

We have released our Insight report for the first quarter of this year, showcasing where lessons can be learned for landlords and residents in a variety of instances.

The report contains insights from our Dispute Support team, who are often the first response to many complaints. They look at the rising number of urgent issues coming to the Ombudsman and how landlords can improve around service charges.

The report scrutinises the last quarter’s casework to find some key lessons for the sector, which includes resources that landlords can take away to improve their own services in these areas.

Among the themes looked at this month are pest infestation, tenancy warning letters and gas safety.

These includes cases such as:

  • A case involving Westminster City Council where we found maladministration for pest infestation. The landlord failed to take into account the residents’ partial sight and therefore, despite being responsive, only prolonged the distress and time taken for the issue to be solved.
  • A maladministration finding for Solihull Council for their handling of gas safety testing, resulting in a period of 11 months where a vulnerable resident had no gas safety certificate.
  • A case about staff behaviour involving Places for People, in which the landlord failed to address the allegations of the resident or seek evidence for them. It also did not take the resident’s vulnerabilities into account when assessing the reasonableness of the steps it had taken.

Read the report

At the same time as the publication of the Insight report, we have also released our latest quarterly data.

The statistics show:

  • The Ombudsman made 1,284 determinations – a 69% increase on the previous quarter
  • Whilst dropping slightly from last quarter, Property Condition was responsible for 58% of all complaints we received
  • The Ombudsman made 2,911 orders to make things right – a 91% increase on the previous quarter
  • 52% of those orders were compensation for residents

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “As we undertake more investigations, the insight from our casework to improve services is expanding.

“This report contains several thought-provoking cases. Our investigation into a blind woman’s experiences of reporting a rodent infestation where the landlord, although responsive, failed to grip the situation and inferred blame on the resident despite her disability, provides lessons for the whole sector on dealing with pest control better.

“We know how hard it can be to treat pest infestation at times, but the cases highlighted provide insights so that landlords can improve in this area moving forwards.

“This Insight report shows how landlords can better tackle issues within their own complaints system before we need to step in.

“The crucial insights from our frontline caseworkers should be essential reading to all in the sector, as they show what we are starting to see a lot of. Getting on top of this is vital before they turn into the investigations of the future.”