27 September 2021
The Housing Ombudsman’s approach to investigating and determining complaints is to decide what is fair in all the circumstances of the case. This is set out in the Housing Act 1996 and the Housing Ombudsman Scheme (the Scheme). The Ombudsman considers the evidence and looks to see if there has been any ‘maladministration’, for example whether the landlord has failed to keep to the law, followed proper procedure, followed good practice or behaved in a reasonable and competent manner.
Both the resident and the landlord have submitted information to the Ombudsman and this has been carefully considered. Their accounts of what has happened are summarised below. This report is not an exhaustive description of all the events that have occurred in relation to this case, but an outline of the key issues as a background to the investigation’s findings.
- The complaint is about the landlord’s response to the resident’s reports about:
a) Water ingress from the roof area at the property.
b) Repairs completed to address issues with the roof, chimney and windows to the property.
- The landlord’s complaints handling has also been investigated.
Background and summary of events
- The resident is a leaseholder of the landlord at the property (‘the property’), a first floor flat. The landlord is the freeholder to the building (‘the building’) within which the property is situated.
- The lease confirms the landlord’s obligation to repair, maintain and carry out improvements to the property and building. The lease confirms the resident’s obligation to pay management/service charges reasonably incurred by the landlord in its adherence to these responsibilities.
- The landlord has provided a document confirming the various responsibilities for repairs within a leasehold property. This includes landlord responsibility for roofs, window frames, rising damp, chimney breasts, walls (excluding internal plastering) and communal areas. Leaseholder responsibility includes internal plastering, internal decoration, ceilings, condensation/mould issues. The landlord’s Homeowner Handbook confirms that there is ‘no set time’ for completing major works.
- The landlord’s complaints policy, in place at the time of the complaint, provided for a three stage complaints process, with responses required within 10 working days at stage one, and twenty working days at stages two and three.
Summary of events
- Landlord records from December 2014 and January 2015 confirm that the roof was inspected at that time and was identified as being ‘in a bad state’, with ‘damp and mould forming on walls and ceilings throughout the property’. It was not clear whether a landlord appointed contractor completed this inspection, though the landlord has subsequently confirmed that it identified, at some point during 2015, that the roof at the property required replacement. The Ombudsman will not normally make findings on issues that took place several years ago as it is not possible to obtain an accurate picture of events after such a time period; it is also expected that a dissatisfied complainant will progress through a landlord’s complaints process in a timely manner. It is relevant to note however that the landlord has not disputed that it has been aware of the need to replace the roof dating back for a considerable period prior to the complaint under investigation.
- The resident said, in correspondence with the landlord that her formal complaint dated back to November 2018, however, the evidence available to this investigation commences with the complaint she submitted to the landlord on 28 February 2019. Her email of that date said that she had been affected by ‘extreme mould’ throughout the property for a number of years, that the landlord’s works to resolve water ingress issues had been of a poor standard and that plastering had to be repeated as water damage had re-occurred (both in the property and in communal areas). She also said that the landlord had confirmed, during 2015, that the roof would be replaced within two years, yet she was still awaiting these works to take place. She said that she had complained about these issues on multiple occasions, that her health had been impacted and she also questioned the management fees she paid to the landlord for a building she was unable to use.
- The landlord sent its stage one complaint response on 18 March 2019, which it detailed as being in response to the resident’s reports about the delay in rectifying a leak from the roof. It said that ‘various’ jobs had been raised in relation to the roof dating back to 2012 and that it had informed the resident, in 2015, that the entire roof needed replacing. At that point, however, it had limited works to repairs to the chimney stack as the roof replacement works were instead included on its next planned programme of works, which were currently delayed for procurement reasons. As it was unable to provide a definitive date for these works, the landlord agreed that it would inspect to identify whether any repair works were required immediately – to this end it scheduled an inspection date of 21 March 2019. The landlord also apologised for any inconvenience experienced.
- There is no evidence that the March 2019 inspection took place, however the landlord emailed the resident on 5 June 2019 confirming that it would need to carry out testing to ascertain the possible cause for a leak, which it intended to do on 18 June. The resident responded on the same date to say that she was still awaiting works to the roof and said that its surveyor had previously confirmed that she would not be charged for the remedial works to resolve the issues within the property. She listed outstanding issues, which included resurfacing the flat roof area, making good the area around a window, re-doing works to the chimney and replacing missing tiles.
- On the date of the testing (18 June 2019), the landlord emailed the resident following a voicemail message she had sent (unavailable). It acknowledged that she wished her complaint to progress to stage two of its complaints process but said that there was no guarantee that it would accept this as it had followed through on the agreement it made within its stage one response to inspect and assess any required roof repairs. The date of the inspection that took place post the stage one response was not clarified, nor was it clear why this prevented the landlord escalating the complaint.
- The landlord’s roofing contractor inspected the property as scheduled on 18 June 2019. On 27 June, the landlord emailed the resident to confirm that damp had been visible within the property when the testing was carried out but that the testing itself had not identified any water penetration. An email from the landlord’s contractor, dated 9 July 2019, confirmed that the required works to the roof of the property were the same as those identified in 2015.
- On 10 October 2019, the resident reported to the landlord that ‘extreme dampness and water damage to our walls’ had taken place during a recent period of heavy rainfall. She said that this demonstrated that the testing that had been carried out in June 2019 had been ‘bogus and a waste of time’. She requested that this be passed on to the landlord’s complaints team, though there is no evidence of her having received a response, from the complaints team or otherwise.
- The resident made initial contact with the Ombudsman on 18 November 2019, referring to poor repairs that had been completed to the roof and chimney area and ‘ongoing dampness’. She said that she had requested escalation of her stage one complaint but had not received further contact from the landlord. The Ombudsman asked the landlord to clarify its position and it responded (to the resident) on 10 January 2020 to say that it had no evidence of her request for escalation, though it noted her contact with its repairs team from June 2019 in which she had registered her dissatisfaction after the stage one response it had sent. With regards to the planned programme of works, the landlord provided an update and said that it expected to commence works ‘in the summer’. The landlord also said that the resident could request a stage two review of the case but that it was unlikely that this would result in a different outcome.
- The resident requested escalation of the complaint on 22 January 2020. She said that her dissatisfaction related to works that had already been completed and paid for through the service charge, for which she provided photos of her bedroom. She also said that a ‘professional experienced roofer’ had inspected the works completed by the landlord and had confirmed that these had been ‘incorrectly carried out’; though this viewpoint was not evidenced. In a further email to the landlord dated 30 January, the resident said that it had not addressed her complaint about the standard of works that had been carried out and the ongoing ‘dampness’. She also disputed the landlord’s position that there was no evidence of her having requested escalation of her complaint.
- On 3 February 2020, the resident emailed the landlord. She said that she had cleared her outstanding balance on her service charge account, though she considered her dispute with the landlord, which she dated back to November 2018 as ‘far from resolved’. She questioned the calculations for major works that had been previously carried out and asked how it had identified the outstanding works for a recent major works notice she had received as she had no recollection of surveyors having inspected. In her view, the only survey that had taken place had been in June 2019, when she had been assured that remedial works would not be recharged as ‘this had already been charged to our accounts’. The landlord’s Rechargeable Works team emailed the resident on 14 February 2020, in relation to a notice she had been sent regarding major works. It confirmed that these works included ‘roof works, including soffit/fascia replacement’.
- The landlord sent its stage two response to the resident on 7 April 2020, which summarised the complaint as relating to the delay in renewing the roof. It said that it had raised repair works to the roof following its stage one response and that its contractors had attended on 18 June 2019 and identified damp within the property, though no water leak at the time. Its roofing contractor had reported loose cement over the roof and a lack of felt in the loft space. The landlord confirmed that it was yet to tender for the contract that included the roof replacement works (including the works identified by its roofing contractor) and that the impact of COVID-19 meant that there would likely be a further delay until October 2020. The landlord again apologised for the continued delay in resolving ‘this repair issue’.
- The resident responded to the stage two response on 29 April 2020, requesting escalation to stage three of the landlord’s complaints process. She did not agree that her ‘long term and ongoing’ complaint related only to a delay in completing roof renewal works. She said that her complaint also related to repairs that had been completed ‘incorrectly and charged’ and damp and mould issues which had been ongoing for more than five years. She said that roofing repairs had been completed in an attempt to resolve these issues on multiple occasions but the works had not been completed properly and she had been charged in any case. The resident also referenced a 2018 landlord survey that had identified that the water ingress remained an issue and that remedial works would be required, only for no such works to take place. There was no evidence available of such a survey however.
- The landlord responded on 6 May 2020. It maintained its position that the complaint related to roof repairs, referring to a formal complaint she had submitted prior to its stage one response in which she had ‘complained about works carried out to the roof by our previous contractor during the period 2015-2019’. It also said that the resident had raised concerns about the contractor completing temporary repairs when it had been identified that the roof required replacement.
- The landlord went on to relay its actions after the stage one complaint response, including confirmation that the works programme (including the roofs works) had been planned for completion ‘by the end of 2019’ but that it had become ‘challenging’ to procure the major works contract for this. It acknowledged that it had not kept the resident updated on the challenges it had faced in resolving this issue, but that it had made contact with her in January (2020) to confirm the further delay.
- The landlord said that it had summarised the complaint as relating to roof repair delays as this was the outcome that would resolve the issue once and for all. It said that any other works it had completed, other than the intended replacement of the roof, had been confirmed as temporary works. With regards to the resident’s request to escalate the complaint, the landlord asked that she confirm the exact outcomes she desired.
- The resident responded on 14 May 2020, saying that the chimney stack and flat roof area was the focus of her complaint. She said that she had lived in ‘damp conditions’ for nearly eight years as a result of this issue, that she had reported this on numerous occasions and had also successfully put in an insurance claim for redecoration costs, though her insurance company had since informed her that further damage was no longer covered. The resident also listed landlord job reference numbers that had been completed, this included chimney works, ‘minor’ roof repairs, leak tracing/repairs and scaffolding. The resident requested escalation of the complaint and compensation for works that had been carried out unsuccessfully (£971) and for internal decoration (£500). There is no evidence of the landlord having responded to this email and it subsequently confirmed that it had failed to address this contact upon receipt.
- In a call with this Service on 20 August, the resident confirmed that her complaint included the number of times the landlord had unsuccessfully attempted to resolve dampness within the property, her windows ‘failing’, the fact that her insurer would not let her claim due to the landlord having completed only temporary repairs, her inability to sell the property and her high service charges.
- A consultation document dated 20 August 2020 confirms that the resident made clear her view that some works it had identified were not required and that the roof replacement cost was ‘highly inflated’.
- A landlord letter dated 8 December 2020 confirms that the landlord had suspended recovery on the resident’s service charge account arrears due to the pending stage three complaint.
- The Ombudsman issued the landlord with a Complaint Handling Failure Order on 17 December 2020. This followed multiple attempts to encourage the landlord to issue a stage two complaint response between December 2019 and February 2020, which had resulted in the stage two response (above) being sent four months after the initial request. In addition, the Ombudsman had contacted the landlord on four occasions, between July 2020 and September 2020, for a final (stage three) response, with no such response having then been sent. The CHFO required that the landlord provide this final response within five working days.
- The landlord responded to the Ombudsman on 23 December 2020. It confirmed that it had, on 29 April 2020, received an escalation request from the resident following its stage two response, but that this had been unclear. It had requested clarification, but unfortunately, it had then ‘not picked up’ her 14 May response (above). It said that it had reviewed the latest correspondence and identified new issues which had not been responded to before (including historic repairs), so it had not been able to provide its final response within the deadline detailed in the CHFO. It said that it had apologised to the resident and would issue this response in the new year. There is no evidence of a stage three response having then been sent by the landlord on the complaint.
- In discussions with the Ombudsman in April/May 2021, the resident confirmed that her complaint related to water ingress from the roof area, repairs completed to the windows/roof/chimney, the landlord’s failure to provide survey reports and its general poor communication. Regarding repairs, the resident said that the landlord had failed to complete works to the roof/window/chimney areas, with the area around the window not having been ‘made good’, constant dampness coming through from the chimney area into her bedroom and a need to re-decorate on multiple occasions despite re-pointing works having been completed to brickwork. In her view, no ‘proper professional roofer’ had ever worked on an effective repair to the roof area of the building. The resident also said that there had been various inspections and surveys carried out over the years, but that she had never seen a resulting survey report, though she had been expected to cover costs incurred.
- On 13 April 2021, the landlord confirmed to the resident that it was no longer able to suspend recovery action on the service charge account due to the ‘pending stage three response’.
- In further calls with the Ombudsman (April to August 2021), the resident said that she had been unable to decorate due to the water ingress at the property, that the landlord charged for repairs even if it was clear that there were concerns with how it had previously completed the same repair issues and that she and other residents were in the process of applying to purchase the freehold of the property. In terms of a desired outcome from the complaint, the resident said that she wanted compensation as she did not believe that an order for the landlord to complete works would be appropriate given the ongoing application to purchase the freehold.
Assessment and findings
Scope of investigation
- The resident has included within her complaint her concerns about the level of charges the landlord has recharged to her through the management/service charge. The Ombudsman’s role does not extend to investigation of the level of a service charge and the resident will need to progress this aspect of her complaint through to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) if she wants further investigation. The tribunal will be able to consider whether the charges incurred were reasonable. Whilst the level of charges will not be investigated, this investigation will consider the landlord’s response (or failure to respond in this instance) to the reports she made about the standard of works completed.
- The complaint, as defined for the purposes of this investigation, includes two areas that overlap. The issues with water ingress from the roof area, including the damp that this has caused throughout the property, clearly correlates with the repair issues raised by the resident. For the purposes of this investigation, the two issues have been separately defined so that separate determinations can be made.
- It is not disputed that the landlord is responsible, under the terms of the lease, to repair and maintain the roof of the building and that the resident is required to reimburse the landlord for costs reasonably incurred by the landlord in carrying out these responsibilities. It is also not disputed that the landlord identified, back in 2015, that the roof required replacement as it was causing damp within the property. Though roof replacement works are complex and will typically take an extended period of time to complete, it remains a requirement that a landlord complete such works within a reasonable timeframe.
- This is particularly important when the landlord has acknowledged that the issue is causing damp within the property, as was the case in this instance. The presence of damp within a building relates to an issue with the structure of a building, as opposed to condensation/mould which would more typically be associated with lifestyle issues (though condensation and mould can also be associated with structural issues such as ventilation). Damp is also classified as a category one hazard under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). Having acknowledged damp within the property as far back as 2015, it was essential that the landlord acted in a timely manner so that the resident benefitted from a property free from such a hazard.
- This investigation has focussed on the repairs completed by the landlord below (see assessment of repairs section). For the purposes of the water ingress issue however, it is considered a reasonable course of action for a landlord to complete temporary repairs pending the completion of major works (in this case, the roof replacement) that will fully resolve the issue.
- However, irrespective of the effectiveness of these temporary repairs, it is clear that the resident experienced a significant detriment over an extended period as a result of the water ingress issues into the property. She reported mould growth, a requirement to re-decorate on multiple occasions, an impact upon her health, disruption whilst repairs took place and a requirement to make an insurance claim followed by complications when she intended to make further claims as the landlord had only completed temporary repairs. The degree of detriment she described is consistent with a property affected by damp related issues for a protracted period.
- The landlord’s response to the resident’s complaint focussed on its difficulties on carrying out the renewal/replacement works to the roof, referring to procurement issues and then COVID-19 related issues. It is appreciated that arranging major works contracts is a timely and complex process for any landlord, with a requirement to survey and assess the property, tender to potential contractors, consult leaseholders and secure the contract itself. In addition, the works themselves will often provide unforeseen difficulties. However, despite these obstacles, in the Ombudsman’s opinion, the delay in progressing the works to the building in this case was unacceptable. The works themselves were identified in 2015. For the resident to be waiting for these works some six years later is not reasonable, particularly given the impact she had reported.
- The landlord’s decision to narrow the focus of the complaint to the standalone issue of the delay in its programme of works meant that, in its view, it was sufficient to relay the difficulties it was experiencing in arranging the works and confirming that the resident would need to wait until they were completed. This demonstrated a lack of understanding about the resident’s overall dissatisfaction. She had complained about ongoing dampness and the impact on the property, her health and her finances. The landlord did not address these issues in its complaint responses, as would have been appropriate.
- The landlord said that it would inspect the property following its stage one response, so that any immediate repair issues could be identified. It is not clear whether this inspection took place immediately after the stage one response, or whether the June 2019 testing that took place amounted to the inspection. In any case, roofing works were identified in June/July 2019, though these were, according to the contractor, the same as those identified in 2015. The landlord later confirmed that these works would take place at the same time as the renewal/replacement works. The landlord also identified no water penetration issues from the testing it carried out in June 2019. Though it was reasonable to rely on the findings of this testing process to confirm that no further work was needed at that point, the resident subsequently made further reports (October 2019) about water penetration during heavy rainfall, including her view that the earlier testing had not been fit for purpose. There was no evidence of the landlord having responded to these further reports from the resident.
- There then followed a protracted delay before the landlord sent its stage two response (April 2020), which again limited its response to the renewal/replacement works to the roof. It clarified the reasons for the further delay (including the impact of COVID-19) and outlined the steps that it had taken since its earlier stage one response, including the inspection and testing that it had carried out. Whilst its actions were consistent with its stage one response, it remained that it had limited the scope of the complaint and not addressed the resident’s reports about previous works it had completed and damage to the property from the water ingress. The resident had been explicit in her contact with it in January 2020, however, the landlord again chose not to address her concerns in full.
- As no stage three (final) response was ever sent, it is reasonable to conclude that the landlord’s final position was that stated in its stage two response, i.e. that it was working towards arranging and completing the programme of works and that this was the outcome that would provide the resident’s desired resolution. It is evident, from the resident’s most recent contact, that the roof replacement works remain outstanding at the time of this investigation. She has clarified that she and other leaseholders are considering taking ownership of the process themselves due to the issues that have been experienced. It is not known to what extent this process has progressed, however, this investigation has determined the case on the basis that the landlord remains responsible, under the terms of the lease, to complete the roofing works as identified. In this regard, the delay in completing the renewal/replacement works, together with the significant impact upon the resident for this protracted period amounts to a considerable service failure on the landlord’s part.
- Having identified back in 2015 that the work required replacement, it would have been appropriate to ensure that such works would complete within a reasonable timeframe. In the Ombudsman’s view, this would amount to completing the works by the end of the 2018/2019 financial year (by April 2019) as this would give at least three full financial years to go through the entire process. This would also mean that the expected timeframe was at, or close to, that identified by the landlord itself in its email to the resident of 6 May 2020. Whilst such a timeline would have undoubtedly resulted in some inconvenience to the resident, this would have been expected and understandable given the difficulty in completing such complex works.
- It is appreciated that the landlord could not have foreseen the impact of COVID-19 upon its service delivery. It is understandable that it has encountered additional difficulties in scheduling major works given the restrictions placed upon all service industries from March 2020 onwards. However, the impact upon the resident must also be considered. The landlord had reasonable opportunity to resolve the issue in advance of the pandemic and the further delays experienced will only have increased her sense of frustration.
- In the circumstances, a significant amount of compensation is considered appropriate to reflect the detriment experienced by the resident from this point (April 2019) until now. In addition, it is recommended that any amount of compensation should be increased to reflect any further delay in completing these works. To this end, the landlord should also ensure that the resident receives regular updates about any progress on the roof renewal/replacement works, until such time as it has fully satisfied its repair obligations – this may include the point at which the resident, together with other leaseholders, secures the repair responsibility in her own right.
- As detailed above, this investigation is not concerned with any charges the landlord has sought for costs it has incurred in completing temporary repairs to address the water ingress issues at the property as this is a matter more appropriately handled by the tribunal. The resident’s complaint, however, outlined her dissatisfaction with the quality of works that had been completed in its attempts to meet its repair/maintenance obligations. Having raised her concerns, she would have had a reasonable expectation that the landlord would address them through its complaints process.
- The resident said that she had been informed, during a previous inspection of the property, that works would not be recharged to her. There is no evidence of this however and this would not have been in accordance with the terms of her lease, which require the leaseholder to reimburse the landlord for costs incurred for works, whether temporary or permanent.
- Whilst this investigation can therefore not consider whether the resident received value for money for the works carried out by the landlord, it can consider whether the landlord has responded to her reports about the standard of works that were completed. In this respect, it is clear that it did not. In its response to the CHFO issued by the Ombudsman, the landlord clarified that these were new issues for it to consider and that it would need time to respond. However, the landlord had been informed on more than one occasion prior to the issuing of the CHFO that the resident was dissatisfied with the standard of works completed.
- Though the landlord had confirmed to the Ombudsman that it would need more time to consider and respond to the repair issues raised by the resident, it failed to do so. Having had the opportunity to respond, and having acknowledged the requirement for it to do so, it is reasonable to conclude that the landlord has missed the opportunity to dispute the viewpoint of the resident in relation to the repairs that had been charged to her, but either not completed, or not completed effectively. Her contact of 14 May 2020, which the landlord accepted that it had received but failed to respond to, detailed the resident’s desired outcome on this issue of compensation amounting to nearly £1,500. In the circumstances, this level of compensation is considered reasonable remedy for an issue that has contributed to the overall distress and inconvenience experienced by the resident over a protracted period.
- The CHFO issued to the landlord on this case was not the only complaints handling concern that has been identified on this case. In addition, it is of significant concern that the landlord chose to narrow the focus of the complaint in such a way that only the delay in the programme of works was responded to. This meant that the landlord missed the opportunity to address the resident’s points of dissatisfaction and resulted in a deterioration in the landlord/resident relationship. Taking time to discuss and understand a complaint is an essential aspect of a landlord’s complaints handling as doing so renders it more likely that a case will be resolved to the mutual satisfaction of all involved.
- The landlord was also reluctant to escalate the complaint, referring to the narrow focus of its complaint definition in stating that the resident would need to wait for the programme of works to complete and that escalation to a senior level would be unlikely to offer a different viewpoint. Taking this approach effectively amounted to the landlord fettering its discretion as it presupposed the outcome of a further review of the case. Furthermore, in response to the CHFO, the landlord said that it had not received the resident’s ‘formal’ request for escalation. However, there is evidence, in both June and October 2019, that it was aware that she remained dissatisfied and wanted her case progressed. The Ombudsman requires a complaints process to have multiple stages so that further review can identify potential issues that were not identified during an initial investigation. In this case, the resident, even with the Ombudsman’s assistance, encountered significant difficulty in progressing her complaint and did not receive a stage three (final) response at any point.
- It is also of significant concern that the landlord failed to address the resident’s response to its stage two response or her October 2020 report she made about further water ingress, which she specifically requested to be passed on to its complaints team.
- The landlord’s complaints handling failures led to a lengthy, frustrating and ultimately unsatisfactory experience for the resident, who was required to correspond with both the landlord and the Ombudsman over a protracted period, only to not have her complaint responded to. The landlord’s consideration of her complaint presents as lacking in customer focus, with poor standards of communication throughout. In the circumstances, a finding of severe maladministration, together with a significant payment of compensation, is considered a reasonable remedy for any distress/inconvenience experienced by the resident. It is also ordered that the landlord review the failures identified on this case, at a senior level, and that it share the findings of this review with the Ombudsman.
- In accordance with paragraph 54 of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme (the Scheme), there was maladministration in relation to the landlord’s response to the resident’s reports about water ingress.
- In accordance with paragraph 54 of the Scheme, there was maladministration with respect to the landlord’s response to the resident’s reports about repairs completed at the property.
- In accordance with paragraph 54 of the Scheme, there was severe maladministration with respect to the landlord’s complaints handling.
- The landlord acknowledged that it had identified that the roof of the building required replacement in 2015 and that the roof issues had caused damp within the property. Whilst it was appropriate to complete temporary repairs and add the roofing works to its planned major works, the timeframe that the resident has been asked to wait for these works (approximately six years) to take place is not reasonable.
- The landlord failed to address the repair issues raised by the resident, despite having been given multiple opportunities to do so. Having failed to provide its position in relation to her reports about the repairs the landlord completed to her windows, chimney and roof area, the Ombudsman has reached a conclusion that the landlord has not disputed that the standard of works it completed were ineffective. As such, providing the resident with the outcome she desired is considered a reasonable remedy for the detriment she experienced.
- The landlord chose to narrow the focus of the complaint to the single issue of the delay in arranging major works. This meant that it missed the opportunity to provide its response to other issues she had raised, including the quality of repairs it had completed. The landlord also failed to escalate the complaint upon request and acknowledged that it had ‘missed’ her response to its stage two complaint. This resulted in a protracted and unsuccessful complaints process that did not focus on the customer. The Ombudsman also issued a CHFO that was not adhered with as the landlord ultimately failed to provide the resident with a stage three (final) response.
Orders and recommendations
- The landlord to pay the resident compensation of £3,600, broken down as follows:
a) £1,500 for the two and a half years (April 2019 until October 2021) of unreasonable delay in completing major works to the building.
b) £1,500 for the standard of temporary works it completed to resolve water ingress issues to the property.
c) £600 for the service failures identified with its complaints handling.
- The landlord to confirm, in writing, to both the resident and this Service, its current position regarding the major works programme. This will include its understanding of how the possible purchase of the freehold by the residents will impact upon its plans. This report to confirm how, in its view, the works will fully resolve the water ingress issues experienced by the resident and to include reference to the evidence it has used to reach these conclusions (survey reports etc).
- The landlord to confirm compliance with the above orders by 28 October 2021.
- The landlord to review the failures identified on this case and report back to the Ombudsman on the findings of this review within three months (by 24 December 2021). This review to incorporate the complaints handling failures identified on this case and also to include a review, at a senior level, about how the landlord’s major works procedures take into account water ingress issues for residents. This review will also report back on its communication with residents and how it identifies interim works and monitors their effectiveness.
- The landlord to pay additional compensation at a rate of £50 per month for every complete month that passes until the completion of the roofing works to the building (payable at the completion of works). In the event that the freehold of the building is purchased by the residents, this recommendation will not be relevant from the point of purchase onwards.
- The landlord to ensure that relevant members of staff receive complaints handling training, incorporating the Ombudsman’s complaint handling code Complaint Handling Code – Housing Ombudsman (housing-ombudsman.org.uk) where appropriate.