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Home Group Limited (202012233)

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COMPLAINT 202012233

Home Group Limited

20 October 2021

Our Approach


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 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


  1. The complaint is about:


  1. The landlord’s handling of the resident’s reports of damp and mould in the property.
  2. The landlord’s handling of roof repairs.




  1. The resident has raised concerns about the landlord’s handling of roof repairs that were needed over a period of five years (the repairs then took place in August 2019). However, her concerns about this were not raised with the landlord until January 2021. The Ombudsman encourages residents to raise complaints with their landlords in a timely manner, so that the landlord has a reasonable opportunity to consider the issues whilst they are still ‘live’, and whilst the evidence is available to reach an informed conclusion on the events which occurred.


  1. As the substantive issues become historic it is increasingly difficult for either the landlord, or an independent body such as the Ombudsman, to conduct an effective review of the actions taken to address those issues. As a result, when a landlord has refused to consider historic issues in accordance with its complaints procedure (as is the case here), this Service’s investigations are limited to events which occurred in the six months preceding the formal complaint being made. This is in accordance with paragraph 39(e) of the Scheme, which states that the Ombudsman will not consider complaints which were not brought to the attention of the member as a formal complaint within a reasonable period which would normally be within 6 months of the matters arising.


  1. Therefore, this Service will not consider the landlord’s handling of the roof repairs.




Background and Summary of Events


  1. The resident is a tenant of the landlord and has an assured tenancy.


  1. The landlord’s compensation policy explains that claims can be brought against the landlord for financial remuneration or replacement of goods. It says any claims should be made to the landlord’s insurance team, and that an insurance claim and a complaint can be made at the same time.


  1. The landlord’s complaints policy explains that compensation payments made by the landlord are used to offset any rent, service charges or other housing related debt owed to it.


  1. The landlord’s repairs policy says that routine repairs are repairs that do not affect health, safety or welfare. It aims to complete these within 14 days.


Summary of events


  1. In September 2020, the resident raised concerns with the landlord about damp in the property. The landlord’s contractor attended on two occasions but could not gain access to the property. The property was eventually inspected on 3 December 2020. The contractor decided that a full damp survey was required.


  1. On 16 December 2020, a damp survey was carried out. A leak was found under the kitchen sink, which was repaired. The contractor thought the leak had been long-term, and noted that the door linings were rotten, walls were damp, and said the kitchen floor needed replacing. The contractor raised several repair jobs, including the removal of floor tiles, renewal of some kitchen units which had been damaged by the leak, repairs needed to the bathroom floor and the stair walls, and some joinery works. It was also noted that a dehumidifier was needed in the property. It booked in the repairs to take place on 8 February 2021.


  1. A further visit took place on 22 December 2020, and the contractor thought the floor tiles needed to be taken up, and the back of the kitchen cupboards removed, in order to allow drying out to take place before the repairs.


  1. The landlord’s contractor provided the resident with a dehumidifier on 6 January 2021, and this was removed on 19 January 2021. Also on 6 January 2021, the floor tiles were removed by an asbestos specialist.


  1. On 24 January 2021, the resident made a complaint to the landlord. She explained that she had been living at the property for five years and had complained about a number of repairs at the property, yet she said action had not been taken. She also said the repairs were not professionally completed on time or were not done at all. She thought the condition of the property was “dilapidated”. The resident explained that the repairs needed were related to: – black mould; wet and broken roof; no radiator in the kitchen; water flowing from under the floors to all walls in the kitchen; and unpleasant smells.


  1. After receiving the resident’s complaint, the landlord carried out an inspection at the property on 29 January 2021. The landlord accepted that a leak had caused damage to the property and noted there was a lot of damp and condensation in the bathroom. It said that in the kitchen the units were damaged, and there was no boarding at the back of the cupboards. The landlord also observed that one of the walls was still wet in the living room, and there was damage to the staircase. The landlord thought the property was in a “poor state”.


  1. Some repairs then took place to the property in February and March 2021.


  1. In early March 2021, the resident contacted the landlord. She said the landlord could have offered her temporary accommodation whilst the repairs were being carried out. The resident also said the dehumidifier had increased her electricity bill. She said her wardrobe had been damaged and her clothes were mouldy. She asked for a refund for the months she had paid rent and said she would be moving out in order to protect her children. The resident also explained that she had been trying to bid for new properties but had not been successful.


  1. The following day the landlord responded to say the resident’s concerns would be dealt with under a formal complaint. Though it did say it had offered her the opportunity to view a property previously, but she had not wanted to move at the time because of her health. It offered her some support with regards to bidding for properties.


  1. The landlord visited the resident again on 8 March 2021. The resident confirmed to the landlord that she did not want any further repairs carried out, as she was intending to move out of the property.


  1. An internal email then sent by the landlord confirmed that several repairs had already been completed, and it had intended to fit a new kitchen. But as the resident did not want further repairs done, it would not be doing this. It also said that during its visit on 8 March 2021, it noticed the bathroom still needed to be decorated, and a patch of damp plaster removed and skimmed, but again, the resident did not want this done. The landlord also said it had discussed with the resident the damage to her belongings and asked her to send over pictures and costs so it could pass this on to its insurance. It further confirmed that if the resident did not move out, it would arrange the kitchen and bathroom repairs.


  1. On 18 March 2021, the landlord issued its stage one complaint response. It made the following points:
    1. After its visit on 29 January 2021, it arranged for the contractor to renew the bathroom floor, install new plinths, ease four internal doors, paint the bathroom frame, remove old plaster at the bottom of the stairs and to reskim, and apply antibacterial wash to all rooms.
    1. On its follow-up visit of 8 March 2021, it had agreed to fit a new kitchen as well as arrange further repairs to the bathroom. However, the resident had requested that all repairs stop, as she intended to move out.
    2. In respect of compensation for damage to the resident’s belongings, it said that a claim would need to be made to its insurance team for this. It asked her to provide information about the damage, as well as any supporting evidence, such as photos.


  1. The resident contacted this Service. She was concerned about the landlord’s handling of the previous roof repairs, as well as mould and damp in the property. This Service asked the landlord to complete its internal complaints procedure.


  1. On 19 April 2021, the landlord escalated the complaint to stage two of its complaints process. It wrote to the resident to confirm this. It also said that it noted the resident had handed in her notice at the property and this was due to end on 25 April 2021. The landlord confirmed that it would look into her concerns about the ongoing problems at the property, but said it would be unable to address the issue surrounding property damage as this would have to be investigated by its insurance team.


  1. On 14 May 2021, the resident responded to the landlord. She said she thought the landlord was overcomplicating matters. She explained that she had asked this Service to look into the matter because she felt sick whilst living in the property and her belongings were wet and damp.


  1. On 20 May 2021, the landlord provided its stage two complaint response. It said:


  1. The first time it had received a complaint from the resident about the roof leak was in January 2021, and in line with its complaints process, it requests that complaints are submitted within six months of the event. Therefore, it would not be considering the issues over the five-year period referred to by the resident, and instead would consider what had happened from the six months prior to her complaint.
  1. The property damage aspect of the resident’s concerns would need to be sent to its insurance team. It gave further details about how to do this.
  2. The resident had raised concerns about damp in September 2020, and several repair jobs were raised after an inspection took place.
  3. Further repair jobs were raised after the resident had made a formal complaint. All of these were completed. It was confirmed to the resident that it would replace the kitchen and carry out some further work to the bathroom. However, the resident did not agree to this as she intended to move out.
  4. The landlord accepted that it did not react quickly enough in carrying out the rectification works following the initial inspection. It said the scope of works was clearly large, and highly disruptive.
  5. It offered the resident £250 compensation, though it confirmed that this would be in the form of a rent account credit as there was a remaining balance on the account that exceeded this amount.


  1. The resident asked this Service to look into her concerns. She said she was unhappy with the £250 compensation offered, as this was not enough to replace her damaged wardrobe, clothes, sofas or carpets.

Assessment and Findings

  1. The landlord’s inspection took place on 3 December 2020. This was some time after the resident first raised concerns, but the landlord had previously attended the property but could not gain access.


  1. A full survey and inspection were carried out on 16 December 2020. The leak was discovered and repaired at this time. However, it was apparent during this inspection that the leak had caused damage throughout the property, and significant repairs would be needed.


  1. The landlord’s repairs policy says that routine repairs should be completed within 14 days. It is accepted that the repairs were not an emergency, but they were urgent.


  1. It is also accepted that some drying was needed to take place before the repairs could begin, but the dehumidifier was only placed in the property on 6 January 2021, the same date as the floor tiles were taken up. This was over a month after the landlord had first inspected the property. The repairs were not booked in until early February 2021, and then further repairs were needed.


  1. When the landlord inspected the property on 29 January 2021, it said the property was in a “poor state” because of the damp to the property, and the damage to the kitchen. This demonstrates the conditions that the resident had to live in throughout December 2020, January 2021, and some of February 2021.


  1. It would have been appropriate for the landlord to have either moved the resident into alternative accommodation during this period, or ensured the repairs were carried out as quickly as possible. The landlord did not offer the resident alternative accommodation, and accepts the repairs were not done as quickly as they should have been.


  1. The impact of this was that the resident decided to move out, as she did not want her children living in such poor conditions. Although the landlord advised the resident on 8 March 2021 that it would be replacing the kitchen and carrying out further repairs to the bathroom, the resident had arranged to move out by that point. It is therefore understandable that she no longer required the repairs.


  1. It is considered that the resident was severely impacted by the condition of the property. She continued to report to the landlord that her personal belongings were being affected by the damp conditions in the property, and she eventually moved out as a result of this.


  1. Although the landlord has already offered £250 compensation for the matter, the Ombudsman considers a higher amount is warranted given the impact to the resident, and particularly that she felt she had to move home because of the matter. This Service’s guidance on remedies says an amount between £250 and £700 may be awarded where the Ombudsman has found considerable service failure, but there is no permanent impact on the resident. Taking this into account, it is considered that appropriate compensation would be £400.


  1. The resident had told the landlord several times that her personal belongings had been damaged due to the conditions of the property. The landlord informed the resident that to make a claim for the damage she would need to provide further details to its insurance team. It could then consider her claim further. This was appropriate and in line with the landlord’s compensation policy.


  1. Finally, the resident said that the use of the dehumidifier increased her electricity bills. It would therefore be appropriate for the landlord to compare her bills over the period where the dehumidifier was in use, with her bill the previous year. If it finds that her bill was higher due to the use of the dehumidifier, it should reimburse her for this.


Determination (decision)


  1. In accordance with paragraph 54 of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme, there was a service failure in respect of the landlord’s handling of the resident’s reports of damp and mould in the property.


  1. In accordance with paragraph 39 (e) of the Scheme, the complaint about the roof repairs is outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.




  1. The resident reported the issues with her property in September 2020. The landlord inspected the property in early December 2020 and was aware at that time that there was significant damage to the property. Although it fixed the leak, it didn’t carry out repairs until February 2021, though there were still repairs needed after this. Meanwhile, the resident and her family had to live in poor conditions with damp to the bathroom, wet walls, and damage to the kitchen.


  1. The resident reports damage to her personal belongings. However, she has not submitted a claim to the landlord as required under its compensation policy. If she wishes to claim for this damage, she should provide the requested information to the landlord so that it can consider the matter further.


  1. The resident says her electricity bills increased due to the use of the dehumidifier. The landlord should have checked this and compensated the resident if appropriate.


  1. In recognition of this service failure, the Ombudsman orders the landlord to award the resident £400 (less any amount it has already paid). The landlord will be entitled to offset this against any outstanding rent owed in line with its complaints policy.
  2. The landlord should also review the resident’s electricity bills for the period when she was using the dehumidifier and compare these to the same period in the previous year. If the resident’s electricity bills were higher as a result of using the dehumidifier, it should offer her an amount equal to the difference.
  3. The landlord should comply with point 42 within three weeks of receiving the Ombudsman’s determination. The landlord should also write to the resident to request details of her previous electricity bills, in line with point 43, within three weeks.



  1. The landlord should aim to prioritise repairs where there is significant damage throughout a property or consider whether it would be appropriate to move a resident into alternative accommodation until the repairs are complete.