Section: Ombudsman

Ombudsman finds severe maladministration after elderly resident had no heating or hot water for almost three years

Posted 24.02.21
Housing Ombudsman Service: Further reading

An elderly resident lived in a property without heating or hot water for almost three years while her landlord Council failed to take appropriate action to resolve the situation.

The Housing Ombudsman's investigation found severe maladministration and it ordered the landlord to pay the resident £6,000 compensation.

Following the 83-year-old's initial report of not having any heating or hot water, the landlord was unable to gain access and six weeks later capped the gas supply.

The Ombudsman found no evidence of further action being taken for a year until the annual gas service visit but no attempt was made to investigate what repairs might be needed.

The gas supply remained capped for the following two annual gas safety inspections as the resident refused access.

During its investigation, the Ombudsman found several missed opportunities by the landlord to try and resolve the matter and limited action to check the resident's welfare.

The annual gas checks were in line with the landlord's obligations but it was not appropriate to comply with these alone.

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Housing Ombudsman calls for stronger focus on 'right first time' and contract management in heating and hot water complaints

Posted 16.02.21
Housing Ombudsman Service: Further reading

The Ombudsman has published a report focused on complaints about heating and hot water, identifying unnecessary delays in resolving issues together with landlords' management of contractors as particular issues of concern.

The report highlights the serious impact these complaints can have on residents, especially when dealing with vulnerable households.

The report, Spotlight on complaints about heating, hot water and energy in social housing, is based on more than 200 cases investigated over an 18 month period from April 2019. It includes complaints about heat networks, gas servicing and energy efficiency to support decarbonisation.

The highest number of complaints investigated concerned general heating and hot water issues, but there was a disproportionately high number of maladministration findings in the cases which involved heat networks - or district heating - and complaint handling.

This is the third report in the Ombudsman's Spotlight series, which share the learning from complaints and provide best practice to help landlords improve their services and complaint handling.

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Housing Ombudsman creates new panel for a stronger resident voice

Posted 03.02.21
Housing Ombudsman Service: Further reading

Recruitment for the Housing Ombudsman Service's new Resident Panel has opened. The aim is to create a stronger resident voice by seeking input and feedback from residents.

It will be a virtual panel initially, made up of around 100 residents from a cross-section of landlords in the Housing Ombudsman Scheme. There will be a mix of residents reflecting the different types, size and location of landlords in the scheme.

The whole panel will meet online twice a year to discuss key areas of work such as the development of the Housing Ombudsman Service's annual business plan and three-year corporate plan.

In addition, there will be opportunities to take part in smaller group activities. These would not look at individual complaints but could include discussions on topics - such as residents' experience of using the service, or the thematic reports investigating issues arising through complaints.

Setting up the panel is part of an overall aim to be open and accessible, and to engage widely with both residents and landlords to share knowledge and learning.

The above link gives access to applications to join the panel - the deadline for submitting these is 25th February.

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Reporting on February 2021

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