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Tenant awarded compensation and apology after being left in mouldy, damp home for 18 months

The social housing tenant was forced to stop rainwater coming through windows and doors with towels for an entire winter

A local authority has been ordered to apologise and pay more than £2000 in compensation to a social housing tenant who had to live with mould in their home for more than 12 months.

A tenant in Greater Yarmouth had to put up with damp, mould, and water leaking through faulty doors and windows which were left unfixed through an entire winter.

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‘A serious failure’

The resident tried for ‘several years’ to get Greater Yarmouth Borough Council to address a number of issues, including mould throughout the property which had been there since he moved in.

The mould affected the kitchen and living room, meant one of the bedrooms was uninhabitable and also damaged a number of items.

Although these concerns went largely unaddressed, the landlord carried out other works to the home which proved to be faulty and caused further issues for the tenant.

New windows and doors which were fitted allowed water to leak through, forcing the tenant to attempt to block the rainwater with towels for an extended period of time.

Over an 18-month period many of the tenants complained and requests for repairs to be carried out were ignored or not acted upon other than temporary solutions, leaving faulty windows and doors in place throughout an entire winter.

The Housing Ombudsman found that “the landlord was aware of mould growth in several rooms” and was “therefore obliged to take steps to address the potential health and safety hazard”.

It added that not doing so “was a serious failure”.

The local authority initially offered £500 in compensation to the tenant, but the Housing Ombudsman ruled this was not sufficient given the impact on the tenant’s living conditions.

The housing ombudsman ruled that there had been “severe maladministration” by Great Yarmouth Borough council, in its handling of repairs and improvement works to the resident’s property.

It ordered the council to apologise to the tenant, provide a further £1700 in compensation and review its policies to avoid further similar incidents.

‘We are sorry’

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “It was a serious failure that the landlord failed to address the significant damp issue over the course of several months. The resident then had to raise concerns about the quality of the improvement works.

“It would have been appropriate for the landlord to prioritise putting those works right given the impact on the resident and that it was already aware of a pre-existing mould growth problem in the property. There is no evidence that it considered the resident’s concerns about the impact and that was a further serious failure.

“I welcome the landlord’s response to our findings and the changes it has made to the relevant procedures and processes. I would encourage other landlords to consider the learning this case offers.”

Great Yarmouth Borough Council apologised “for the mistakes in this case, which meant the service we provided fell below the standards that our tenants have a right to expect”.

A spokesperson said: ”We manage 5,700 homes providing detailed planned maintenance and upkeep regimes, and in the vast majority of cases we make prompt repairs where individual issues arise. That was sadly not the case here, and we had already apologised and offered compensation to the tenant before the case was reviewed by the Ombudsman.

“We are very grateful for the Ombudsman’s report and, although some items have been delayed due to the nature of the work and additional complications of safe working through the Covid-19 pandemic, we are working with the tenant to put things right. We have also made changes to our procedures around major works and the monitoring of contractors, and reviewed and updated our processes for ordering and managing work.

“We are sorry that our tenant and their family did not receive the proper care and attention to their home that they deserved, and once again we apologise to them for this.”