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Ealing Council criticised by Ombudsman for leaving homeless family in high rise flat with faulty windows, leaks, damp and mould for 17 months

Ealing Council has been criticised by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman for leaving a young homeless family in a 10th floor flat with faulty windows from May 2021 to October 2022.

As well as the faulty windows, the family had other issues with the flat including leaks, damp, mould and exposed electrical cables  when they complained complained about the temporary accommodation in May 2021.

The Labour-run council agreed that the flat was unsuitable due to the disrepair issues and put them on a transfer list but it wasn’t until the end of October 2022 that the family was finally moved to alternative accommodation.

The family complained to the Ombudsman when they were not satisfied with the council’s response to their concerns. The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council was not properly recording the actions it was taking to secure alternative temporary accommodation which also revealed there was no audit trail for staff to refer to.

According to the Ombudsman, the council also cannot demonstrate the action it took to find suitable accommodation for the family. The investigation also criticised the council’s delay in finding suitable accommodation for the family.

Nigel Ellis, chief executive at the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said: “While we are mindful of the difficulties councils face – particularly in London – in securing accommodation, councils must ensure that the accommodation they do provide is suitable.

“In this case, not only was the accommodation not suitable, it was beset with disrepair issues. The family have told me of their concerns for their children living in a high-rise flat with unsafe windows and exposed electrics.

“I am pleased the council has accepted my recommendations to remedy the situation for this family. It has told me there are 31 other households on its transfer list for temporary accommodation, so I have asked it to consider remedying any complaints of injustice to those other households too.”

As a result of the Ombudsman findings, the council agreed to apologise to the family and pay them £3,400 for the 17 months they lived in unsuitable accommodation with disrepair issues.

The Ombudsman said Ealing Council will review its record keeping procedures to develop a system of recording actions taken to find accommodation for individual applicants.

Speaking to EALING.NEWS, Councillor Gary Malcolm, leader of Ealing Liberal Democrats said: “Liberal Democrats are shocked we keep seeing more cases like this where residents are being treated so badly again and again. We are calling to the Council to review cases like this to make sure the process is changed to ensure that these cases cannot occur again.

Councillor Malcolm added: “The Council also needs to be better to make sure that it informs residents of their rights for when things go wrong so repairs can take place sooner and how they can contact the ombudsman.”

The latest Ombudsman finding comes after Ealing Council was recently found guilty by the Housing Ombudsman of severe maladministration for delays in handling property repair for resident.

The Housing Ombudsman ruled Ealing Council guilty of severe maladministration after a resident who needed repairs to a leak into their sixth floor flat was kept waiting nine months to have it resolved.

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