Council apologises to tenant who lived in mouldy house for years

Great Yarmouth Town Hall.Photo: Andy Darnell

The authority based at Great Yarmouth Town Hall has given cash compensation to a council house tenant who lived in mouldy conditions for years. - Credit: Archant © 2011

A council has been forced to handover £1,700 in compensation to a tenant who spent years living in a home riddled with mould.

The Great Yarmouth Borough Council payout followed an investigation by Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway which found the authority guilty of severe maladministration for the way it had handled the tenant's complaints and work to remedy problems.

Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway

Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway - Credit: Housing Ombudsman

The male resident, who lived in a council-owned property in a village in the north of the borough, had complained he had spent years trying to get his home brought up to an acceptable standard.

Mould was present in the kitchen, living room and one bedroom and work to install a ventilation system to tackle condensation had never taken place.

The problem meant the bedroom was impossible to sleep in.

As well as the continuing mould problem, the tenant also reported concerns over works to his kitchen and rain water entering the property through doors and windows.

The council had conducted inspections and established further works were needed, but failed to carry out any works to address the mould problem.

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Work to fix doors and windows took place after three inspections.

The council had paid out £500 compensation through a complaints process, partially in recognition of some damaged items, increased energy costs to do with ill-fitting windows and the need to dry out the property.

However the ombudsman said the council failed to identify service failings in its handling of reports of damp, did not award compensation for the distress and inconvenience caused over a 18-month period and had delayed unreasonably in putting things right.

In finding the council guilty of severe maladministration Mr Blakeway ordered the borough council to pay the tenant compensation of £1,700 in recognition of the distress and inconvenience caused by the repairs and handling of his complaints.

Mr Blakeway 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." 

Council response

A statement from Great Yarmouth Borough Council 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. 

"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.

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