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Yorkshire Housing Limited (202107303)

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COMPLAINT 202107303

Yorkshire Housing Limited

7 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 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 water leak in her property.
    2. The landlord’s complaint handling.

Background and summary of events

  1. The resident is a tenant of the landlord. She lives in a block of similar properties.
  2. The landlord’s records show on 2 March 2021 the resident reported an uncontainable water leak from the property above. She said the water affected her electrics. The landlord visited both properties that day. The neighbour explained they had a “very high bath” that morning (at the same time the resident reported the issue) which spilled over the edge. The landlord advised the resident that there was not an ongoing leak. An electrician also attended later that day, turned off her shower and made safe the electrics. The electrician reconnected the shower on 11 March (the resident had other bathing facilities during this time).
  3. The resident raised a formal complaint to the landlord on 3 March 2021. She said she was complaining about the leak from the day before. She said she had received poor service from the landlord when she reported the issue. She explained that the water had leaked into her bathroom. She said the bathroom was “left unsafe due to it being unhygienic and unsanitised”. She said she had tried to clean the bathroom, but still found it unsafe. She said she did “not think it [was] right that [she] had to do all this on [her] own” (in reference to the cleaning). She said the leak had left her feeling “physically sick, unwell and stressed”. She said none of this would have happened if the leak did not occur. She said the leak had occurred on countless occasions. She asked the landlord numerous questions, including but not limited to: why there was a leak, why she received poor customer service, and whether it thought it was fair that she had to purchase cleaning products to clean the leak.
  4. A surveyor visited the property on 9 March 2021. It is unclear from the landlord’s records what they investigated or found.
  5. The resident emailed the landlord on 25 March 2021. She said it had not responded to her complaint. She said there was “still ongoing issues like [her] wall still getting wet from the above flat. Stains being left because of this…”.
  6. The landlord emailed the resident on 30 March 2021. It asked her to contact it to discuss her concerns.
  7. The landlord issued its stage one complaint response on 8 April 2021. It acknowledged that there was some staining on her ceiling. It said its surveyor investigated the flat above but did not locate a leak. It said its surveyor had attempted to gain access to the resident’s flat that day (8 April), but was unable to. It asked her to grant access so it could determine if anything had changed since its last visit, and locate the source of the new water ingress (as reported on 25 March). It concluded by explaining how the resident could escalate her complaint if she remained dissatisfied.
  8. The landlord acknowledged the resident’s stage two complaint on 22 April 2021. Evidence of this complaint has not been provided for this investigation.
  9. In a text message to the resident on 14 May 2021, the landlord advised it had put her complaint on hold. It said it would look to find a resolution within the next ten working days.
  10. A surveyor attended on 20 May 2021. It is unclear from the landlord’s records what they found or inspected. 
  11. At some point in May or June 2021 (the exact date is unknown), the resident sent the landlord pictures of the water damage in her property.
  12. The resident emailed the landlord on 8 June 2021. She said she had been in touch with it concerning her complaint for over two months. She said its surveyor had attended when she had been unavailable. She said the landlord had not answered her questions. She said she experienced leaks from her neighbour’s property one to four times a year. She said it was not right for her to continuously clean up the same water leak. She asked numerous questions (similar to those from her original complaint).
  13. The landlord issued its stage two complaint response on 28 June 2021. It summarised its understanding of the resident’s escalation to be because she felt it had not addressed all the points she raised in her original complaint. She was also dissatisfied that a surveyor had attended unannounced on two occasions, and the length of time her complaint had been open. The landlord apologised for its delayed complaint response. It said it would work alongside its team to look at how it could improve its service. It said it had reviewed the surveyor’s findings, and the pictures the resident sent it. It said it was not clear that the water was coming from her neighbour’s property. It said the surveyor had advised that having wallpaper in the bathroom was likely to have caused her issue, along with the bathroom vent not being used in the correct way. It said it would redecorate the water damaged areas. In terms of the unannounced visits, it said it would look at what lessons it could look at to improve its communication. It concluded by explaining that the resident could refer her complaint to this Service if she remained dissatisfied.

Assessment and findings

Handling of the water leak

  1. The landlord’s repairs policy states it will attend to emergency repairs within four hours, and aims to complete work within 24 hours. Examples of emergency repairs include uncontainable leaks, or total loss of electrical power.
  2. The resident reported a leak coming from her neighbour’s property on 2 March 2021. The landlord attended both properties that day to investigate. It advised her that the leak was not a result of an ongoing issue. An electrician also attended that day to make safe, and disconnected her shower. They reconnected the shower on 11 March. The landlord arranged follow up appointments to investigate following the resident’s report on 25 March that her wall was still getting wet.
  3. The evidence shows the landlord attended promptly in response to the resident’s reports. It also took reasonable steps to investigate her concerns by inspecting the neighbour’s home, and arranging follow up appointments when she raised further concerns. The landlord’s actions were reasonable in the circumstances of the complaint.

Complaint handling

  1. The landlord’s complaints policy states it will acknowledge stage one complaints within two working days, and respond within ten working days. It will acknowledge stage two complaints within two working days, and respond within 20 working days. The landlord can extend the timescale for its stage two response by up to ten working days.
  2. The resident raised a formal complaint on 3 March 2021, and chased an update on 25 March. The landlord issued its stage one response on 8 April. It is unknown when the resident escalated her complaint. Nevertheless, the landlord acknowledged it on 22 April, and advised on 14 May that its response would be delayed. It issued its stage two response on 28 June.
  3. In the landlord’s stage two response, it apologised for its delayed response (45 working days in total), and said it would look how to improve its service. However, it did not provide any detail, or evidence to show how exactly it would ensure it avoided repeating similar mistakes. Also, it did not acknowledge that its stage one complaint response was also delayed (25 working days). The landlord failed to act in line with its target response timeframes for both complaints even with the ten working day extension for its stage two response. As the landlord failed to acknowledge both delays, or set out how it would improve its service, its apology was unreasonable, and not suitable redress.
  4. The Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code sets out that “landlords shall address all points raised in the complaint”. The Code also explains that “landlords should manage residents’ expectations from the outset”.
  5. In this case, in the resident’s stage one complaint she raised multiple concerns, and asked the landlord numerous questions. She was dissatisfied that she had to clean her bathroom following the leak. Although residents are generally responsible for cleaning their property, the landlord should have acknowledged and responded to her concerns. It was unreasonable not to do so. It acknowledged in its stage two response that the resident felt it had not addressed the entirety of her initial complaint. Despite this, it failed to revisit her original complaint and respond to it accordingly. The landlord also failed to address her concern that the leak was ongoing, and therefore missed its opportunity to reassure the resident that this was not the case. These were failings in complaint handling by the landlord.

Determination (decision)

  1. In accordance with paragraph 54 of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme, there was no maladministration in respect of the landlord’s handling of the resident’s reports of a water leak in her property.
  2. In accordance with paragraph 54 of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme, there was service failure in respect of the landlord’s complaint handling. 


  1. The landlord attended promptly, and took reasonable steps to resolve the leak. However, it delayed responding to the resident’s complaint, and failed to address all the points she raised.

Orders and recommendations

  1. The landlord is ordered to pay the resident £100 for the inconvenience and delay experienced as a result of the service failure identified with the landlord’s complaint handling.

This payment should be made within four weeks of the date of this report. The landlord should update this Service when the payment has been made