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Ealing Council found guilty by Ombudsman of severe maladministration for delays in handling property repair for resident

The Housing Ombudsman has 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. 

The complaint related to a leak which the resident said was coming from the flat above. After reporting the issue, the Council visited both flats and made some repairs, but the resident reported the issue was still ongoing and made a complaint two months later.

Over the next six months, the resident had asked Labour-run Ealing Council for an update but the council failed to provide any updates on the complaint and it took the Ombudsman to intervene for it to provide more information to the resident.

In a statement, the Ombudsman said: “We have found severe maladministration for Ealing Council after a nine-month delay in its complaint handling left repairs outstanding and the resident without redress. We were forced to issue a Complaint Handling Failure Order to get the council to issue a response.”

As a result, the Ombudsman has ordered Ealing Council to pay the resident £1,225 in compensation, update its records with vital information about the case and ensure it is compliant with the Complaint Handling Code.

Ealing Council said it has now overhauled its complaints handling process and are seeking a new contractor to improve services for residents.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “The fact we’ve had to intervene on numerous occasions during this complaint is undeniably unacceptable. The Complaint Handling Code is there to support landlords to deliver an effective complaints procedure. The timescales are clear markers for landlords to ensure residents are listened to and their concerns dealt with promptly.

“As the Complaint Handling Code becomes statutory under the Social Housing Regulation Bill, we will be exercising our powers a lot more in this area.”

Speaking to EALING.NEWS, Ealing Liberal Democrat Councillor Jon Ball, the party’s spokesman on housing said: “This catalogue of errors by Labour-led Ealing Council is a shocking litany of failure. Over an eighteen month period the council’s contractors made multiple visits that failed to find the cause of the water leak, failed to properly communicate with the residents, failed to comply with complaint handling rules, attended the wrong flat on one occasion and even created an additional leak. Council tenants have a reasonable expectation that the council will carry out repairs on time and with basic competence. The Council failed woefully to achieve that.”

Councillor Ball added: “This case is sadly not an isolated incident. The Housing Ombudsman issued Ealing Council with four complaint handling failure notices in the last quarter alone, 10% of those it issued to all landlords in the whole country. We as the opposition group demand that the Labour administration seriously overhaul the housing repair and complaints services to give council tenants a fair deal.”

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