Housing Complaint Decisions by the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman – A Roundup

The Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman has published details of its decisions on housing complaints, covering various topics, such as disrepair, allocations, interim and temporary accommodation, and more. 

Although the decisions here relate to complaints against local authorities, they are of course public bodies, and Registered Providers of Social Housing are also treated as public bodies. The decisions can therefore be informative, help provide guidance, or in some circumstances act as a warning. 

A link to the decisions section of the website can be found here and a roundup of some recent relevant decisions are as follows:

Canterbury City Council (22 016 214) 

Summary: Mr X complained about the Council’s refusal to allow him to bid for a new tenancy under its allocations scheme. He says he needs to move for health reasons and would be willing to give up his joint tenancy if offered a new one. The Council says he must resolve his tenancy matters with his wife who is a joint tenant. 

Finding: The Ombudsman could not investigate this complaint about the Council’s refusal to allow Mr X to be offered a second social housing tenancy until he resolved his current joint tenancy issues. The Ombudsman had no jurisdiction to investigate complaints about the actions of social housing landlords about tenancy matters. 

Cambridge City Council (22 007 458) 

Summary: Ms Y complained on behalf of Mr X that the Council failed to consider its Public Sector Equality Duty and Mr X’s unique circumstances when it did not offer him a viewing of a property (‘Property 1’). Ms Y stated this prevented Mr X from practicing his religion as he wished, affected his mental health, and caused stress. 

Finding: The Ombudsman would not investigate this complaint that the Council breached its equality duties in relation to Mr X’s housing application. This was chiefly because the evidence suggested there was no fault, in the circumstances, in the Council not inviting Mr X to view a property. 

London Borough of Wandsworth (22 002 574) 

Summary: Ms B complained that she was placed in temporary accommodation in November 2019 which was infested with bedbugs and this problem was ongoing. As a result, she had suffered bites and her possessions had been infested. She had also been inconvenienced and had to spend money on a pest control contractor. 

Finding: The Ombudsman found that the Council was at fault for not treating the room when a previous tenant reported an infestation. However, the next tenant did not report any issues so there were no grounds to criticise the Council for placing Ms B in the property. The Ombudsman also found the Council was at fault in failing to carry out a follow-up treatment within a reasonable time after treating the room in July 2020 and in informing Ms B that its pest control service was chargeable. The Council has agreed to apologise to Ms B and refund the payment she made to her own pest control contractors. 

Norwich City Council (22 004 043) 

Summary: Mr X complained about the Council’s handling of his requests for help with finding new accommodation when threatened with eviction from his current property. Mr X was concerned about the Council’s insistence that he declared his medical cannabis use to prospective landlords to receive a Council Homelessness Prevention Fund (HPF) loan. Mr X said the Council’s refusal to provide this loan unless he declared his medical cannabis use was discriminatory and prevented him from securing a new tenancy and access to the financial help he needed. Mr X said he felt he had reached the point where he was no longer able to remain in the city because no prospective landlord would rent accommodation to him.  

Finding: The Council was not at fault for asking Mr X to disclose his medical cannabis use to prospective landlords to qualify for a Council loan to help with a rent deposit and rent advance payment. The Council ignored Mr X’s requests for a letter to help reassure prospective landlords about his medical cannabis use, which was a fault. This fault did not however cause Mr X sufficient injustice to warrant a remedy, as the Council said it did not have the medical expertise to provide the type of reassurance Mr X was seeking. 


Law is correct as of 5th May 2023 

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure that the law in this article is correct, it is intended to provide a general overview of the law for educational purposes. You are respectfully reminded that it is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No liability is accepted for any error or omission contained herein. 

Contact us, we are here to help

If you have any questions please contact Phillip Coburn, Partner, MSB Solicitors at phillipcoburn@msbsolicitors.co.uk.