Housing Ombudsman finds severe maladministration by Lambeth Council after one year delay to fix broken window – Brixton Buzz

The Housing Ombudsman has found “severe maladministration” for Lambeth Council’s lengthy delays in repairing a window that has left a resident with boarded up bedroom windows since June 2019.

In this case Lambeth initially made temporary window repairs with wooden boards after two panels fell out of their frames from the bedroom windows in the resident’s fifth floor flat onto the ground below.

The resident immediately reported it and made a formal complaint eight months later when the window had still not been replaced.

The delay left the resident with no choice but to live in a flat with a boarded bedroom window that let in rain and a cold draft which she said was intolerable in the autumn and winter months.

Months later Lambeth Council apologised, and confirmed a window replacement would be fitted but did not give any timescale for the repairs.

The Ombudsman’s investigation criticized Lambeth Council for poor record keeping, the failure to include timescales for repairs and to adequately explain why there has been a delay of over a year for the repair to take place.

The Housing Ombudsman has also written to Lambeth Council to express concern at the high level of failure seen in his casework since issuing a special report into poor complaint handling by Lambeth Council in February 2022.

This comes as a report for Lambeth Council’s Corporate Committee this week revealed there is currently a backlog of 1,017 housing complaints cases from residents that are overdue a response.

Lambeth has only responded to 55% of overall complaints cases within its agreed timeframe, well below its 90% target.

Housing issues also appear in 8 of the top 10 areas of cases brought forward by councillors through “Members’ Inquiries”.

Within the last 6 months, Lambeth had responded to less than two thirds (65%) of Members’ Inquiries within the agreed timeframe, down from 73% in the previous 6 months.

Councilor Matthew Bryant, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dem Council Group, who sits on Lambeth’s Corporate Committee commented:

“This case highlights the truly shocking record of Lambeth Council when it comes to housing repairs. It is beyond belief that it can take over a year to replace a broken window, leaving residents living in such appalling conditions for so long.

“This isn’t an isolated case at all. Since being elected in May, it has become clear to me just how bad an experience social housing tenants and leaseholders in Lambeth are facing.

“As local councilors we have residents coming to us all the time to chase up on the status of housing repairs.

There are cases we raised in May that still haven’t been fully resolved six months on. Residents in social housing deserve better than this from Lambeth Council.”

Background

  • The press release from the Housing Ombudsman on the broken window case can be found at here. The full report is available here.
  • In February 2022, the Housing Ombudsman issued a Special Report on Lambeth’s complaint handling following the volume and frequency of complaint handling failure orders issued and a series of formal investigations into Lambeth Council.
  • The report on Complaints, Members’ Inquiries and Freedom of Information Act requests, which will be discussed by Lambeth Council’s Corporate Committee on 24th November can be found here.

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