Peabody Trust (202201395)

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COMPLAINT 202201395

Peabody Trust

28 June 2023


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 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 concerns the landlord’s handling of:
    1. A request for adaptations to the property.
    2. The related complaint.


  1. The resident is an assured tenant. The property is a 3-bedroom house. The tenancy is dated 25 October 2019, however the resident moved into the property prior to this in 2015.
  2. The resident lives at the property with his 3 children and partner. His eldest daughter is severely disabled and is wheelchair-bound, with oxygen attached to the wheelchair to assist her breathing.
  3. In his formal complaint dated 17 March 2021, the resident advised the landlord’s inaction in providing the adaptations had started to affect him physically, he has a “constant backache, knee pains, and forearm and wrist strain” from carrying his daughter up and down the stairs who he explained was heavier since her PEG operation in May 2020.  It is not the role of the Ombudsman to investigate if there is a causal link between reports of health issues experienced by the resident and the actions of the landlord. The resident may wish to seek legal advice about this, as a personal injury claim may be a more appropriate way of dealing with this aspect of the complaint. As this type of claim is more appropriately dealt with by a court or other procedure, this element will not be investigated. However, consideration has been given to whether the landlord appropriately assessed the resident’s household’s needs and also the general distress and inconvenience that may have been caused to him.
  4. The resident has told this Service that he first moved into the property 2015 and that the landlord was aware at this stage, of the requirement for adaptations to be made to the property to meet the needs of his daughter. Whilst this Service has not seen evidence to verify this, it is acknowledged that the information provided by the landlord dating from June 2018 to March 2019 shows it was in communication with the local authority’s OT and contractors during this time regarding adaptations work and that it obtained quotes for work around the same time.
  5. However, this review will consider the landlord’s handling of the required adaptations from February 2020, when the local authority’s Home Improvements Agency (HIA) team contacted the landlord for an update in relation the adaptation works as this is within a reasonable timeframe of the resident’s formal complaint raised approximately 1 year later on 17 March 2021. Any reference to events prior to this timeframe is for context only.

Summary of events

  1. In February 2020, the local authority’s HIA team contacted the landlord asking for an update in regard to progress with the required adaptations to the property. This Service has not been provided with any further details, including the landlord’s response to the HIA.
  2. In May 2020, the resident’ s daughter underwent a PEG operation.
  3. On 1 June 2020, the resident contacted the landlord advising he had been waiting for a wheelchair lift to be installed at the property ever since he and his wife moved into the property 4 and a half years ago. With his wife’s illness and death in 2017, he had hoped the matter would be dealt with some urgency. He said despite “countless surveys and inspections” over the past 3 to 4 years, nothing had been done and progress had stalled. He explained his daughter who was now 11 years old, had no means of getting upstairs except by him carrying her. The resident advised he would be contacting his MP for their involvement.
  4. The resident also contacted the OT on 1 June 2020, who said they would contact the landlord regarding the progress of the work. On 9 June 2020, the OT advised the resident they had been in contact with the landlord and provided him with the relevant contact details for the landlord. The resident replied to the OT on 10 June 2020 advising he had spoken to the landlord who had promised to “push things forward”.
  5. On 31 July 2020, the resident advised the OT that he had had a visit from the “lift people” and bathroom surveyor but things “had gone quiet again”.
  6. The landlord’s communications with the local authority’s HIA team dated 22 October 2020 referred to 2 quotes being obtained for the works and show the HIA approved 1 of the quotes and agreed to provide the maximum funding of £30k for the major adaptation works with the landlord agreeing to cover the additional costs.
  7. On 3 February 2021, the resident emailed the landlord providing the background to his adaptation case. He said the local authority had now “passed the project” but complained that the landlord’s project co-ordinator had “stopped taking” his calls. He explained he had left messages but had not heard back.
  8. The resident raised a stage 1 complaint on 17 March 2021, reiterating the details of his situation, as previously explained in his 1 June 2020 email to the landlord. The resident advised he had received no contact from the landlord regarding the adaptations until after he threatened to contact his MP in 2020. It then progressed the matter and surveys and quotes were gained. However, when progress stalled again at the end of 2020, he left messages for the co-ordinator but did not hear back. He said he contacted the local authority who said they had not received enough quotes from the landlord nonetheless they approved the quotes and plan. He advised that since then the plans had returned to the landlord, but no one had contacted him about the progress of the works.
  9. The resident explained he been forced to initiate contact with the landlord “on every occasion” and once such contact had been established, the landlord’s staff had stopped taking his calls. He said he raised concerns about this on 3 February 2021, after which he received a phone call from the landlord advising it would attempt to get the relevant people to contact him. However, he had not been contacted by the landlord since. The resident said to date, he had not received any communication in writing from the landlord regarding the adaptation.
  10. The resident explained his daughter was awaiting a major hip operation and had to deal with severe brain damage, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and spasticity affecting all four limbs, on a daily basis. The lack of action from the landlord was making this situation “intolerable”. He urged the landlord to “do the right thing” and begin “a formal and sustained communication” with him.
  11. The landlord acknowledged the resident’s complaint on 19 March 2021.
  12. The contractor provided the landlord with a revised quote and layout on 31 March 2021, which it sent to the OT and local authority’s HIA for approval on 1 April 2021.
  13. The landlord’s records indicate it called the resident on 14 April 2021, with an update. Its notes indicate it apologised to the resident for the delay with the adaptation works and that the landlord advised it was awaiting approval of the contractor’s quote from the OT.
  14. The landlord provided a stage 1 response on 19 April 2021. It stated it was sorry that the proposed adaptations had taken so long to be completed and for the inconvenience and upset caused to him and his family. It advised that from its investigation, it was clear that it should have provided written updates throughout the duration, and it was sorry that this was not carried out prior to his complaint. This case was a challenging adaptation, delays occurred due to numerous quote amendments requested by the OT, due to restricted space and the dimensions and designs were critical for a successful outcome.
  15. It said the local authority was in possession of the revised quote and drawings and equipment specifications and it was waiting for them to approve the quote/grant. The local authority grants team would tell him when this had been approved and it would also keep him updated with written communications at all times.
  16. The landlord stated that prior to the works commencing it would temporarily decant him and his family into a suitable property which meets his family’s needs. It could assure him that this case would be used to learn from and improve its services in the future. It advised that as the service provided had been below what it would have expected, it was offering compensation of £400 for the time, trouble and inconvenience caused.
  17. The landlord’s communication with the OT dated 22 April 2021 show the OT raised queries and requested a “scaled technical drawing” with dimensions for:
    1. Door widths.
    2. Turning circle spaces available in client’s bedroom, bathroom, and outside lift on 1st floor & ground floor.
    3. Size of lift.
    4. Spaces between bath, sink, toilet, and wall.
    5. Width of corridors.
  18. In its reply to the OT dated 29 April 2021, the landlord advised at no time had this been previously requested and whilst this could be obtained from the architect, this would incur additional costs. The landlord suggest that one last appointment was made for themselves, the contractor and the architect to attend the property to finalise the works and to allow it to move forward with the works. It asked if the resident was aware of the late changes.
  19. The landlord, the OT and contractor attended the property on 12 May 2021. The landlord’s notes of the visit stated it was agreed by all parties that the contractor would arrange for their architect to attend and draw up the plans for the works.
  20. On 24 June 2021, the OT, the contractor, and the architect attended the property.
  21. The resident contacted the landlord on 29 June 2021, asking why it had taken 5 weeks for the contracted architect to come to his house, after the works “had been given the green light” at the meeting on 12 May 2021. He said the lift installation was urgent and said his daughter was at risk of injury by being carried up and down stairs.
  22. The landlord’s internal communications show the architect provided it with drawings incorporating the proposed changes to the property on 15 July 2021 and on 21 July 2021, it advised the local authority it was waiting confirmation from the OT that they were fully in agreement with said drawings.
  23. The landlord’s internal case note dated 27 July 2021 stated once the OT had agreed the drawing, the contractor would revise the costs and resend all paperwork with quotes for it to apply to the local authority for the disabled facilities grant (DFG) to fund the works. The landlord was in communication with the local authority’s HIA team over the next week wherein they reiterated it would fund works up to the £30,000 grants threshold with the landlord covering the costs over the threshold.
  24. On 5 August 2021, the landlord called the resident who advised he was in agreement with the works but advised he was due a final home visit from the OT on 9 August 2021.
  25. The OT attended the property on 9 August 2021 and on 11 August 2021, advised the landlord that they had reviewed the drawings with the resident and advised he did not want the position of the toilet and landlord/hallway cupboard to be changed as indicated in the drawings. The OT also asked for confirmation that the through floor lift does not have a permanent wall surrounding it on the GF living room level as the drawings indicated it did.
  26. On 13 August 2021, the landlord forwarded the requests to the contactor and asked once everything had been clarified and agreed, for them to provide a new quote outlining all of the works required so it could send through the DFG application form.  On 16 August 2021, the contractor confirmed they would re-quote.
  27. On 30 September 2021, the contractor provided the landlord with re-quote, the landlord submitted Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) to the local authority on 5 October 2021.
  28. On 15 October 2021, the resident’s MP contacted the landlord on behalf of the resident concerning the lack of progress with installing a wheelchair lift at his property. They reiterated the risks to safety posed to both the resident and his daughter by him having to carry her up and down the stairs. They said the resident would like an apology from the landlord for its failings whilst dealing with this matter and he was keen for the landlord to address the reasons for the delay and learn lessons from these. The MP said the resident also requested compensation for stress and injury and agreement to fund alternative adapted accommodation and arrange necessary removals and / or cover their expenses during the works period, whenever this should finally occur.
  29. On 18 October 2021, the resident contacted the landlord advising he had not received a reply to his last communication date 29 June 2021 when he asked why it had taken 5 weeks for the architect to visit his property after works were “given the green light” at the 12 May 2021 meeting. He said he did not receive a response and had not received any contact from the landlord since. The resident explained he felt ignored, sidelined, and not treated as a stakeholder. He said that one of the key elements of his stage one complaint was that the landlord’s poor communication and unwillingness to explain the ongoing delays to him. He asked the landlord if his complaint had been escalated to stage 2 and if it had not been, to escalate this to stage 2.
  30. On 25 October 2021, the landlord confirmed that his complaint was still at stage 1 but as he had now requested escalation to stage 2, it would inform its customer experience team who managed all stage 2 complaints. It advised they would be in touch with him to log this. The landlord’s internal communications showed it forwarded his complaint to the relevant team on this date.
  31. On 25 October 2021, the resident wrote to the landlord reiterating his request to escalate his complaint to stage 2. The resident requested:
    1. A formal apology.
    2. Information about progress in the adaptations now and going forward.
    3. Compensation for stress and injury and a pledge to fund alternative adapted accommodation and arrange necessary removals and / or cover their expenses during the works period, whenever this should finally occur.
  32. On 9 November 2021, the landlord acknowledged the resident’s complaint and advised him that it had logged this at stage 2. The landlord confirmed its understanding of his review request.  On 12 November 2021, the resident emailed the landlord providing further details of his complaint.
  33. On 15 November 2021, the landlord advised it aimed to provide a full stage 2 response by 6 December 2021.
  34. On 30 November 2021, the landlord advised the OT that it was working with the lettings team to locate an accessible property within the area to decant the resident, whilst the building works/adaptations were being carried out within the property. The landlord asked the OT to confirm the family’s requirements, so this information could be relayed to the relevant team.
  35. On 2 December 2021, the OT advised the family required a wheelchair accessible property. They said the access to the property needed to be level or suitable for a portable ramp. Also, level access to a large bedroom to accommodate essential equipment and essential amenities (including bathroom) all on one level if possible.
  36. On 7 December 2021, there were internal emails between the landlord’s different staff members regarding “getting things moving with the temporary decant” and that they needed a start date from the contractor.
  37. On 8 December 2021, the resident contacted the landlord asked for the stage 2 response referring to the 6 December 2021 previously given to him. On 9 December 2021, the landlord apologised for not be able to response by 6 December 2021 and advising it now aimed to response by 17 December 2021.
  38. On 24 December 2021, the landlord wrote to the resident advising it had not been able to complete the stage 2 investigation yet as it had been experiencing a continued increase in cases which was causing delays, although new staff were starting January 2022, which should resolve this re-occurring. It would respond in full on 30 or 31 December 2021 and would factor in the delay with his compensation offer.
  39. On 31 December 2021, the landlord told the resident that it was awaiting a final update from the team that project manage the adaptation works which would enable it to assess the final lessons learned and compensation offer due to him. Its contractor had proposed waiting to start works after Christmas to minimise disruption over the festive period. Once it had received an accurate and updated timescale it would calculate the additional compensation due to him. The landlord advised this would be outlined in its final response which should be within the first half of January 2022.
  40. On 4 January 2022, the resident advised the landlord that his partner was due to give birth to their child on 17 March 2022, and asked that it urged the contractor to come to a clear decision on when they would start the works, or the works would be set back by months. He was returning to work as a teacher in April 2022, so January to February 2022 remained the “optimum time” for the works.
  41. On 10 January 2022, the local authority approved the landlord’s application for the DFG.
  42. The landlord issued its stage 2 response to the resident on 30 January 2022. Within its response, it apologised for the delay in assigning his escalation request. It acknowledged the outcomes he sought and said it was sorry he had lost trust in it but explained it was not feasible for it look back in detail as far back as 2015. It could only look as far back as six months prior to when the complaint was logged, in line with it polices.
  43. It was sorry he had had a poor experience with its aids and adaptations team, it was not able to find evidence they were not fit for purpose. This department managed a large amount of adaptations and related requests and enquiry’s each year and most issues were dealt with successfully and they had a very low level of complaints logged about their service each year. The landlord said however that as outlined in its stage 1 response, its communication had not been as good as it could have been and in hindsight it had also found that his expectations could have been better managed.
  44. It acknowledged that the stage 1 response was provided in April 2021 and that the works had still not been completed. Regarding next steps, it was hoping for the works to start the week of 17 February 2022 following one final inspection with its suppliers to check the right equipment was ordered as it has been many months since they last visited, so they need to double check all measurements. The landlord stated it would continue to monitor the works through to completion.
  45. The landlord advised that in terms of lessons learned and putting things, it was evident there had been delays and poor communication, though there was some mitigation to this, the cost of the works was over £30,000 and as a charity, it had to ensure value for money and audit costs before signing this off. It also had to arrange for detailed drawings to be carried out and changes and alterations by the local authority and OT caused delays and there were instances where the local authority did not respond to its queries. Some of the delays were also down to the pandemic.
  46. Therefore, the landlord said that not all the delays in this case were avoidable nor could be fairly attributed to it and therefore it was unable to compensate for factors outside of its control. It was very sorry for the shortcomings experienced and confirmed it had fed back his case appropriately. It offered to double the compensation amount offered at stage 1 to £800 as well as £100 for complaint handling.

Post final response

  1. The landlord completed a temporary decant form on 28 April 2022. Its internal communications from this date to 14 June 2022, show it discussed the need to find a suitable property to decant the resident to as the contractor and resident had agreed the start date of 27 July 2022 (and completion date of 5 September 2022).
  2. On 4 May 2022, the resident told the Ombudsman that the landlord had failed to oversee the installation of a wheelchair lift in his property for many years. They took up residence in the property in 2015 on the understanding that the house was adaptable for his disabled daughter’s future needs. As at that date, no lift had been installed on the property, despite the danger posed by carrying his daughter up and down stairs daily.
  3. On 26 June 2022, the resident asked the landlord for an update on finding a property they would be decanted to for the works to be completed. He asked what contingency plans were in place as he believed it would be unacceptable to delay works any further.
  4. In early July 2022, the landlord’s lettings team offered the resident 2 options of temporary housing, the resident accepted the first however this turned out to be unavailable and the resident declined the second option. In his 17 July 2022 email to the landlord he advised he was given details of the second property at 3pm and asked to approve it by the end of the day, but said there were not enough details and the photos suggested there that there would be enough common space for his daughter’s wheelchair and other equipment. He said that the timeframe given was unreasonable.
  5. On 13 May 2023, the resident told the Ombudsman that despite ongoing interventions by his MP on his behalf, as of today’s date the landlord had failed to contact him for over 2 months regarding a move to temporary accommodation, despite reassuring his MP that it would. The 2-month delay by the landlord’s lettings department this year meant they again failed to meet the window set by the contractor for the works to take place in summer 2023.
  6. On 22 June 2023, in response to our further information request, the landlord confirmed the adaptations works had not been done due to difficulties in finding temporary accommodation that meet the specific needs of the family. It explained it advised the resident (as he had requested) that if he could find a property himself it would consider paying for this however, itwould need to agree the cost in advance. The landlord advised that part of the recent delay was because it was waiting for the resident to find a property. It said the resident had recently found a property (a holiday) for a period of time in September 2023, and it was in discussions with the resident about this.

The landlord’s obligations and policies

  1. The Equality Act 2010 provides a legislative framework to protect the rights of individuals and to advance equality of opportunity for all. The landlord would be required to comply with the provisions for public bodies under the Act. Under the Act the landlord had a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments where there is a provision, criterion or practice which puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled.
  2. The Social Housing Regulator’s Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard requires registered providers to “treat all tenants with fairness and respect” and “demonstrate that they understand the different needs of tenants, including in relation to the equality strands and tenants with additional support needs” with a specific expectation that providers will “demonstrate how they respond to those needs in the way they provide services and communicate with tenants”.
  3. The landlord’s Aids and Adaptation policy categorises major adaptations as costing over £2,000 including, but not limited to, provision of lifting aids, stair lift installation and installation of a wet room. Its states urgent major adaptations will be completed within 28 days and non-urgent adaptations will be completed within a maximum of 6 months from the date of the occupational therapist assessment.
  4. Following a request, an occupational therapist assessment report and quote for works, the aids and adaptations team will assess whether it is a minor or major adaptation.
  5. For all major aids and adaptations, it will usually require a resident to apply to their local authority for a DFG to cover the cost of the aids and adaptations recommended by an OT assessment. It will, where reasonable, offer assistance in making the application and work with the local authority to achieve the best solution for the resident.
  6. It states the aids and adaptations team will get a minimum of two contractor quotes.
  7. Its policy also states:
    1. Local authorities can take up to 6 months to approve a request. It aims to complete all major adaptations within 6 months once it has received funding.
    2. The aids and adaptation team will keep applicants informed throughout the process.

Assessment and findings

  1. It is clear that the landlord had received, at some stage prior to February 2020, an OT recommendation in relation to the adaptations works. There are a number of factors which indicate the required adaptations in this case were extremely urgent. The resident’s daughter has severe disabilities meaning the resident has to carry her up and down stairs due to the property not having been adapted to meet her needs. By February 2020, the resident’s daughter was about 11 years old and in May 2020, she had a PEG operation which resulted in her gaining a stone in weight. The resident pointed out the health and safety risks of him carrying her up and down stairs on a number of occasions. However, there is no evidence of the landlord formally assessing, during the timeframe reviewed, if the adaptation was ‘urgent’ or non- ‘urgent’ as per its Adaptation policy. This indicates a failure by the landlord to follow its policy.
  2. There is also no evidence the landlord checked with the resident to see if he needed additional support despite the resident being very clear in terms of the impact on living without the adaptations which he described as ‘intolerable’. By the very nature of the service delivery the landlord was aware of the complex needs of the family  and yet it failed to actively listen to the distress the process and delays were causing and provide any dialogue with the resident in how best they could support him to navigate through this time. This is indicative of the landlord failing to meet its obligations.
  3. The landlord did not meet the 6-month timescale stated in its policy for completing ‘non-urgent’ major adaptation works. Whilst this investigation found the landlord is not responsible for the entire period of the delay, overall, the landlord did not treat the matter with sufficient urgency, and it has failed to demonstrate that it prioritised the needs of the resident and his daughter whilst handling the adaptation works.
  4. After receiving a request for an update from the local authority in relation the adaptation works in February 2020, the landlord took steps over the next 23 months to progress the adaptations. However, as at the date of the landlord’s final response on 30 January 2022, the agreed adaptations to the property had still not been provided. It is acknowledged that the scope of the works was extensive and complex, and completion of the said adaptations required the landlord to work with third parties including the local authority’s OT and HIA and the contractor. It is clear that this meant, at times, the landlord’s ability to move the project forward was hindered either because it was awaiting information from others or because it needed to take into account their requests which required further work. For example, in April 2021, the landlord had to arrange for the adaptation works to be re-quoted by the contractor after the OT requested a different type of drawing. This was followed by a request to alter the layout shown in plans after the OT and resident reviewed these in August 2021 and found there were issues.
  5. However, the landlord’s Adaptation policy makes clear that the landlord is responsible for managing the relationship with the contractors and local authorities and our investigation found that at times there were unreasonable delays by landlord whilst co-ordinating the works. This was a major factor in the failure to deliver the works within a reasonable timeframe. This includes the period after funding for the works had been approved by the local authority in October 2021.
  6. In its final response dated 30 January 2022, the landlord said that it hoped works would start just over two weeks later on 17 February 2022, following “one final check with our suppliers”. The works did not take place at this time as no temporary accommodation had been found for the family in time. It is noted that the landlord had previously advised in the stage one response that it would arrange for the family to be decanted to a suitable property prior to the works commencing. Whilst the evidence shows it had been in communication with its lettings team and the OT from late November 2021, regarding finding a suitable property, there is no evidence to suggest that as at the time of writing the final response, a property had been found. The landlord only completed a decant form to be passed to its letting team on 28 April 2022. This indicates the landlord did not take reasonable steps in the planning of the decant. As such, its advice given in its final response regarding the date of the works without explaining this was dependent on temporary property being found in time, was misleading and shows it made no attempt to manage the resident’s expectations at that time, regarding the timing of the adaptation works. It also shows a failure to recognise the needs and the impact on the resident. The landlord’s poor planning and lack of foresight led to further frustration, distress and inconvenience.
  7. In terms of the period prior to the landlord’s final response, it is unclear from the available evidence, what action, if any, the landlord took during the 3 to 4 months after the HIA’s contact with it February 2020. However, it is acknowledged that neither contractor nor OT visits would have been possible from March to June 2020 due to the covid-19 lockdown in effect at that time. Therefore, the delay during this period was outside of the landlord’s control. After further contact from the HIA team as well as from the resident in early June 2020, the landlord arranged for 2 quotes to be obtained for the adaptation works as all previous quotes obtained (pre-2020) had expired.
  8. Over the next few months, 2 contractors attended the property to quote the works which the landlord submitted to the HIA team for approval (prior to completing the DFG. Adaptations included a through floor lift, ceiling hoists and building works to make the bathroom accessible.
  9. On 22 October 2020, the local authority’s HIA approved one of the quotes, agreeing to provide the maximum 30k in funding with the landlord agreeing to cover the additional costs of the works. Therefore, the steps taken by the landlord between June to October 2020 to obtain 2 quotes for the works and seek approval from the local authority, were appropriate and in line with its adaptations policy. Its willingness to fund the balance of the cost of the works shows it acted appropriately in this regard. However, throughout this period, it did not provide any updates to the resident regarding the process. This is evidence of the landlord failing to follow its policy which requires it to keep applicants informed throughout the process.
  10. The landlord was in communication with the successful contractor and the HIA during December 2020 regarding specifications of the works. However, there is no evidence to show the works were progressed over the next 2 months. The resident complained about this in his email to the landlord on 3 February 2021 as well as the lack of contact from the landlord. The resident followed this up with his formal complaint raised on 17 March 2021, in which he reiterated the urgent need for the adaptation works to be completed and for the landlord to keep him informed about the progress.
  11. The failure of the landlord to take any steps to progress the works from the end of December 2020 to March 2021 indicates it did not treat the adaptation works with sufficient urgency at this stage. The landlord’s lack of contact with the resident is also indicative of poor communication. These are serious failings.
  12. The landlord however was more proactive in progressing the works between April 2021 and the end of September 2021.  It was in regular contact with the contractor and the local authority’s OT and HIA teams in getting agreement regarding final plans from all parties in order to apply for the DFG which it did on 30 September 2021. This process did take longer than would usually be expected, however, as mentioned above, this was because the drawings had to be altered in April 2021 and again in August 2021, to accommodate new issues raised by the OT, which the contractor then had to re-quote for. The landlord has demonstrated it was working behind the scenes to meet the challenges of the building works for the family at this stage, therefore, it acted reasonably in this regard. Nonetheless, its communication with the resident about the progress of the works remained poor. For example, it did not reply to his 29 June 2021 email and made no contact with him throughout the next 4 months, until after it received further contact from the resident and his MP in October 2021. This is evidence of the landlord failing to do what it said it would do at stage 1 which was to keep the resident updated with written communications at all times. This shows the landlord failed to learn lessons despite acknowledging at stage 1 that its communication with the resident up to then had not been to the expected standard.
  13. Following the resident’s stage 2 complaint, on 31 December 2021, the landlord advised the resident that it was awaiting confirmation from its contractor about when they would commence the works. Around the same time, the local authority approved the landlord’s application for the DFG. As mentioned above, in its final response dated 30 January 2022, the landlord stated it hoped for works to start the week commencing 17 February 2022 following one final inspection with its suppliers, but this did not happen.
  14. Both parties have recently told us that to date, the adaptation works have not been completed. On 22 June 2023, the landlord told us this was due to difficulties in finding temporary accommodation that meet the specific needs of the family. This Service is unable to investigate the cause of the delay during the timeframe since the final response, however, the landlord’s continued and prolonged failure to find a solution some 17 months after its final response which suggested that the works would be completed within weeks, is evidence of a serious failing by the landlord.
  15. In summary, the landlord did not prioritise these urgent adaptation works and at no point during the process did it assess the impact of the process on the resident or offer any adjustments, support or signposting. This had a serious detrimental impact on the resident, his daughter and his wider household. This, its poor communication, and the failure to provide the adaptations over an extended timeframe, are indicative of serious failings by the landlord whilst handling the request for adaptation works. Whilst the landlord offered to pay the resident £900.00 in compensation in its final response for time, trouble and inconvenience, this amount does not reflect the ongoing stress and inconvenience by the landlord’s failure to ensure the adaptation works were completed as agreed in its final response.

Complaint handling

  1. The landlord operates a 2 stage complaints process under which it will acknowledge a formal stage one complaint within 3 days and provide a stage one response within 10 working days. At stage two, the landlord will acknowledge a request to escalate within 3 working days and provide a response within the next 15 working days.
  2. Following the resident’s formal complaint raised on 17 March 2021, the landlord issued its stage 1 response on 19 April 2021. This shows it failed to adhere to the timescales stated in its policy when replying to the resident’s stage 1 complaint.
  3. The resident asked to escalate his complaint to stage 2 on 18 October 2021 and the landlord provided its stage 2 response on 30 January 2022. This indicates a further delay by the landlord when replying to the resident’s complaint at the review stage. The landlord did not complete the review by the dates given to the resident of 6, 17, 30 December 2021 and then failed to issue it ‘in the first half of January 2022’ as had subsequently been indicated to the resident. Whilst the landlord did provide updates to the resident on 8, 24, 31 December 2021 explaining the delay, the multiple missed deadlines and failure to comply with the timescales in its complaints process is evidence of poor complaint handling.
  4. In its final response, the landlord acknowledged the delay in responding to the resident’s stage 2 complaint, apologised for this and offered the resident £100 in compensation for time, trouble and inconvenience which it said was the maximum amount under its compensation policy.  The landlord did not provide its compensation policy in force at the time of the complaint however, in light of its failure to follow the timescales in its complaints process at both stages, as set out above, the redress offered was insufficient to resolve this its complaint handling failings.
  5. The landlord’s advice given to the resident at stage 2 that it would not investigate events more than six months prior to his complaint, is in accordance with its complaint policy that stated the same, as such it acted appropriately in this regard. However, the landlord did not address the resident’s request at stage 2 for it to pay for and arrange necessary removals and / or cover their expenses during the works period which shows a failure to fully address all aspects of the complaint. This is contrary to the Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code which requires landlords to address all points in the complaint and provide clear reason for any decisions. Its failure to do so is a further service failing.

Determination (decision)

  1. In accordance with paragraph 52 of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme, there was severe maladministration by the landlord when handling the request for adaptations to the property.
  2. In accordance with paragraph 52 of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme, there was maladministration by the landlord when handling the related complaint.


  1. Delays on the part of the landlord and lack of urgency shown when co-ordinating the adaptations works led to the required works never being delivered despite its commitment to monitor the works through to completion. This lack of regard for its policy, a failure to assess the impact of the process on the resident or offer any adjustments and its poor communication constitutes evidence of serious maladministration by the landlord.
  2. The landlord did not provide its complaints responses within the timescales stated in its complaint’s procedure, including a significant delay at stage 2. This compounded the stress and inconvenience already being caused to the resident.

Orders and recommendations

  1. The Ombudsman orders the landlord to:
    1. Within four weeks:
      1. Provide the resident with a written apology from an appropriate member of the senior leadership team for the failings identified in this review.
      2. Pay the resident additional compensation of £1750 (£2650 including the amount offered during the complaints process) comprising:
      3. £1600 for stress and inconvenience.
      4. A further £150 for complaint handling failings.
      5. Address the resident’s request for it to pay for and arrange necessary removals and / or cover their expenses during the works period. Its response should reference its decant policy.
    2. Within 8 weeks:
      1. Find alternative temporary accommodation for the resident and his family to move into to enable the agreed adaptation works to be undertaken at the property. This includes the option of it agreeing to fund accommodation that the resident has found himself as per the scenario it has outlined to this Service.
      2. Work with the resident and agree a date for the decant to take place and provide this Service with the agreed date and schedule of works required in the property with agreed timescales for completion.
      3. Provide the resident with weekly updates until the arrangements for the decant and works have been confirmed.