Torus62 Limited (202010327)

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COMPLAINT 202010327

Torus62 Limited

27 May 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 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 the landlord’s handling of:
    1. the resident’s antisocial behaviour reports concerning two neighbouring properties.
    2. the resident’s concerns about asbestos in the property she resides in.

Background and summary of events

Antisocial behaviour reports – property A

  1. The resident has referred to dogs being left in property A between December 2019 and March 2020. The landlord has provided the antisocial behaviour case file for this period and aside from one anonymous report, there is no evidence that the resident reported concerns about the dogs during this timeframe. The Ombudsman can only consider the landlord’s handling of reports made by the resident, and therefore, this investigation has focussed on the reports made by the resident from early July 2020 onwards.
  2. On 9 July 2020 the landlord contacted the resident following a report it received from her about dogs being left in property A. The resident told the landlord that she thought the tenant of the property (Neighbour A) had been arrested and someone was looking after the dogs, but the dogs were barking constantly at night when they were left alone. The landlord advised the resident to report the matter to the RSPCA and that it would find out what was happening and take the appropriate action. 
  3. The following day the landlord contacted the RSPCA about the matter. The landlord says it has no record of the RSPCA responding.
  4. On 13 July 2020 the landlord contacted a relative of Neighbour A and a discussion about the matter took place.
  5. On 3 August the landlord messaged the resident asking her to make contact. The resident subsequently contacted the landlord on 5 August and confirmed that the dogs had been removed from the property. Following this the landlord closed the case.

Antisocial behaviour reports – property B

  1. On 14 November 2019 the resident reported that the tenant of property B (Neighbour B) was a drug user and visitors to this property were causing a disturbance by banging doors and shouting, particularly at night time. On 20 November 2019 and on several occasions following this, the landlord attempted to contact the resident to discuss the matter further and left messages asking the resident to make contact.
  2. The landlord subsequently spoke to the resident on 4 December 2019. The landlord’s records state that the resident advised that she wanted to move and that Neighbour B was a drug user.
  3. The landlord contacted Neighbour B about the matter on 11 December 2019 and asked them to attend an interview. The interview went ahead on 17 December 2019, during which Neighbour B denied the allegations.
  4. On 3 January 2020 the landlord contacted the police for further information. The police subsequently responded to confirm that they had not received any reports about Neighbour B.
  5. The landlord wrote to the resident on 7 January 2020. It said that it had tried to contact the resident to update her but had been unable to do so. It asked the resident to make contact by 14 January 2020. On 16 January 2020 the landlord wrote to the resident to confirm that it had received no further contact from her and it was closing the case.
  6. On 22 June 2020 the resident made further reports about Neighbour B. She said that drug use was taking place in property B and she was being disturbed by shouting and banging. Following this the resident also reported that prostitution was taking place in property B. The landlord advised the resident to report the issues to the police.
  7. Following this an officer was assigned to the case who attempted to make contact with the resident on three occasions between 25 June and 10 July. On one of these occasions the landlord left a message advising that it needed further details before it could take action on the case.
  8. On 10 July 2020 the resident told the landlord that the antisocial behaviour was occurring on a daily basis and she had reported the matter to the police and obtained two reference numbers. In response the landlord confirmed that it would contact the police.
  9. The landlord contacted the police on 13 July 2020. The police subsequently responded and confirmed that they had attended property B on one occasion and no offences had been recorded.
  10. On 17 July 2020 the landlord attempted to contact Neighbour B but was unsuccessful. It subsequently spoke to Neighbour B on 23 July 2020. The allegations were raised with Neighbour B and they were warned that the situation was being monitored in relation to a potential breach of their tenancy.
  11. The landlord attempted to contact the resident on two occasions following this but was unable to speak to her.
  12. The landlord sent letters to all residents of the block on 10 August and 12 August 2020, in which it asked residents to report any antisocial behaviour. Following this the landlord closed the case on 14 September 2020, noting that it had not received any contact from residents in response to the letters it had sent out.

Formal complaint

  1. On 30 July 2020 the resident submitted a complaint to the landlord. In relation to the matters being considered by this investigation, she said that:
    1. Neighbour A had left dogs in property A while he was in prison between December 2019 and March 2020, and the dogs had caused a nuisance with their barking. Neighbour A was a violent criminal and had again recently left dogs in the property. The dogs had finally been removed.
    2. The new tenants of property B were known drug and alcohol abusers; frequent visitors to the property were shouting and banging on doors and prostitution was taking place in the property.
    3. There was asbestos in her property but regular checks had not been carried out.
  2. On 13 August 2020 the landlord responded to the complaint. It said that:
    1. A relative had been visiting property A to tend to the dogs and the matter had been raised with them. Reports of this nature should in the first instance be reported to the RSPCA who was able to apply for a warrant and force entry if appropriate. The dogs were no longer in the property.
    2. The allegations about Neighbour B had been raised with them but denied. It had no clear independent evidence and it was difficult to take further tenancy enforcement action against Neighbour B. It would, however, issue a letter to all residents in the block to see if they were willing to provide any evidence or information relating to the matter.
    3. An asbestos survey was carried out in January 2016. This confirmed that the floor tiles in the property contained chrysotile. It did not legally need to remove asbestos from its properties; it was required to record where any asbestos was present and to manage it. There were no current proposals to remove the floor tiles and replace them.
  3. The resident replied on 14 August 2020 dissatisfied with the landlord’s response. She said that a previous survey confirmed there was asbestos in the walls of the property. She also said that she felt the landlord was calling her a liar.
  4. On 1 September 2020 the landlord provided a final response to the complaint. It said that:
    1. In relation to the allegations the resident had made, it had highlighted in its previous response that there had been no evidence to support those allegations. This did not mean that the resident was lying, just that any tenancy enforcement action had to be supported by evidence.
    2. As long as the asbestos was not damaged or disturbed then there should not be any possibility of exposure to asbestos dust. It had previously rightly highlighted that there was no legal obligation on landlords to remove asbestos and it would only do so in circumstances where it was no longer possible for the asbestos to be safely managed.

Assessment and findings

Policies and procedures

  1. The landlord’s antisocial behaviour policy and best practice in case management outlines the approach it takes to responding to antisocial behaviour reports. In summary this confirms that:
    1. The landlord will respond promptly to reports, interview the customer, agree a realistic action plan, and communicate with the customer on a regular basis as agreed.
    2. The landlord will use a range of tools to tackle antisocial behaviour including prevention, support and enforcement, with the objective of delivering a proportionate and flexible response.
    3. Early intervention actions may include: interviewing neighbours; interviewing the alleged perpetrator; issuing tenancy warnings: using acceptable behaviour contracts and working with partner agencies.
    4. Tenancy enforcement includes legal action to demote a tenancy, seek possession or obtain an injunction.

Antisocial behaviour reports

  1. The landlord responded appropriately to the resident’s reports about dogs being left in property A as it promptly contacted a relative of Neighbour A. Details of the conversation with the relative cannot be divulged due to confidentiality reasons, but the Ombudsman is satisfied that the landlord established that steps were being taken to appropriately manage the situation with the dogs. Within three weeks of the landlord receiving the initial report from the resident, the dogs had been removed from the property. Therefore, the matter was resolved in a timely manner.
  2. In relation to the reports about Neighbour B, the landlord took various steps in response to those reports. It obtained further details from the resident, it interviewed Neighbour B, it issued a warning to Neighbour B, it contacted the police, and it issued letters to other residents of the block encouraging them to report any antisocial behaviour they had witnessed. All these actions were in line with the antisocial behaviour policy and were appropriate and proportionate given the nature of the resident’s reports.
  3. Neighbour B denied the allegations and no independent evidence was obtained to support those allegations, either via the police or from other residents. The landlord was unable to take further action against Neighbour B because enforcement action can only be secured with adequate supporting evidence. In the circumstances it was reasonable for the landlord to close the case against Neighbour B.
  4. However, some aspects of the case against Neighbour B could have been managed better. Whilst it is acknowledged that the landlord experienced difficulty contacting the resident on several occasions, it may have assisted matters if the landlord had agreed an action plan in writing, setting out the steps that both it and the resident had agreed to take including the contact arrangements going forward. While the landlord confirmed in January 2020 that the case against Neighbour B had been closed, it did not explain why. The shortcomings in the landlord’s communication may have contributed to the resident’s perception that there was a lack of action in response to her reports. 


  1. Landlords have a legal duty to manage asbestos in the common areas of their residential properties (under regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012). This requires landlords to identify any asbestos containing materials, to assess the risk, and to make a plan to manage that risk. There is, however, no ‘duty to manage’ or to maintain an asbestos register for domestic properties, and no legal obligation to inform residents of where the asbestos is in their homes. A landlord is not obliged to remove asbestos from a domestic property if it is in a sound condition and can be left undisturbed. However, if it is damaged or deteriorates and there is the risk of asbestos dust, then the landlord is under a duty to repair or if necessary, remove the damaged asbestos. 
  2. The landlord has provided a copy of the asbestos management survey for the property carried out in November 2014. This confirms that asbestos was found in the floor tiles in the living room and hall. The risk was assessed as low and it was recommended that the condition of the floor tiles be managed and monitored. The reinspection survey carried out in January 2016 confirmed that the floor tiles were assessed as very low risk and should be managed and monitored. The landlord has also confirmed that it carried out another survey in February 2021, which again confirmed there is asbestos in the floor tiles.
  3. The landlord’s decision not to remove the asbestos was in line with the findings of the asbestos surveys and the landlord was entitled to rely on the survey findings as they were carried out by a suitably qualified specialist. This decision was also in line with guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive and the approach outlined by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System; all of which confirm that asbestos which is in a good condition can be left in situ. The landlord has taken steps to monitor the condition of the asbestos by carrying out reinspection surveys.
  4. The resident has said that a survey by a different surveying company identified that there was asbestos in the walls of the property. The resident has not provided any further details to the landlord or the Ombudsman, and therefore, it has not been possible to verify the resident’s claim in this regard. Accordingly, there is nothing to suggest that the landlord failed to take relevant information into account in reaching its decision on the complaint.
  5. However, the landlord’s complaint response failed to address the specifics of the resident’s complaint about this matter ie that another survey had identified that there was asbestos in the walls. Therefore, it may have assisted matters if the landlord had clearly set out its position on this matter in addition to explaining what its legal obligations are in relation to managing asbestos containing materials.

Determination (decision)

  1. In accordance with paragraph 54 of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme, there was no maladministration by the landlord in respect of its handling of the resident’s antisocial behaviour reports and its response to the resident’s concerns about asbestos.


  1. Overall the landlord took appropriate and proportionate action in response to the resident’s antisocial behaviour reports. The reports about dogs being left in property A were resolved as the dogs were removed. The landlord was unable to take further action against Neighbour B due to a lack of evidence and it was therefore reasonable for it to close this case.
  2. The asbestos surveys confirm that the floor tiles in the property contain asbestos and do not require removing. Therefore, the landlord has acted in accordance with the surveys by leaving the tiles in place and monitoring their condition. No evidence has been provided to support the resident’s concern that there is asbestos in the walls of the property.


  1. It is recommended that within the next four weeks the landlord reviews its handling of the antisocial behaviour cases considered during this investigation and implements any necessary remedial action to improve its communication with customers going forward.