4 July 2022

Housing Ombudsman determinations – April to June 2022

The Housing Ombudsman has reviewed how we handle your complaints.
Houses

Did you know that LiveWest is a member of the Housing Ombudsman Service?  

The Housing Ombudsman is a free and impartial service set up to investigate complaints made by customers about their housing provider. This means that you can ask the Housing Ombudsman for advice and support at any time, including accessing their website which has lots of useful information. You can also ask the Housing Ombudsman to carry out a formal review of how we have handled your complaint once we have concluded our investigations.

The Housing Ombudsman publishes the outcome of their formal complaint reviews on their website. The reviews are published three months after the decision date.

Please find a summary of recent investigations carried out by the Housing Ombudsman. 

Determination 1

The complaint relates to a customer’s concern regarding the handling of a meeting. On 28 June 2021, we sent a letter to the customer advising that we had been made aware of an incident between the customer and her neighbour and that we would like to visit to find a resolution to the situation. The visit took place in early July at the customer’s home. In attendance at the meeting were two colleagues from LiveWest, a PCSO and a police officer. 

On 20 July 2021, the resident raised a formal complaint regarding the meeting stating that she was unaware that four people would be present and felt intimidated by this. We investigated the complaint and sent a response on 20 August 2021. In the letter, we explained that prior to the visit we had sent a letter advising that the police would be present at the meeting and advised the customer during a phone call that two of our colleagues would be attending. We asked the customer if she was happy for everyone to enter the property before the visit started, which she confirmed she was. During the visit, the good neighbour agreement was discussed, at which point the customer asked the LiveWest colleagues to leave, which they did. Our complaint investigation at both stage one and stage two of our complaints policy concluded that we found no evidence to indicate that the visit was not conducted properly. 

The customer asked the Housing Ombudsman to investigate. The Housing Ombudsman reviewed the complaint and did not find any maladministration in our handling of the meeting with the customer. The Housing Ombudsman concluded that it is good practice for the landlord to inform the resident of who will be attending a meeting, including any other agencies that will be present. The landlord cannot be held accountable for not informing the resident that both a PCSO and police officer would be attending the meeting if we were not aware of this prior to the visit. Overall, the Housing Ombudsman concluded that our handling of the meeting was reasonable. 

Determination 2

The complaint concerns the handling of electric works at the property and our handling of the complaint. 

On 26 January 2021, we wrote to the customer, advising that after two attempts, we had been unable to carry out an electrical inspection at the property, and confirmed that the matter would be referred for legal action if the customer did not allow an inspection to take place on 5 February 2021. 

On 5 February 2021, we carried out the inspection of the electrics at the property and identified no issues. Further communication between LiveWest and the customer about the electrics at the property continued during the period 1 February to 8 February 2021. The customer remained dissatisfied with the electrics at his home and requested a formal stage one complaint. The customer provided further information and complained about loss of items and bulbs breaking and blowing due to problems with the electrics and surges of power. We concluded the complaint investigation at both stage one and stage two of our complaints policy and found no signs of electrical damage but did recognise failings in complaint handling. 

We concluded that there were no signs of electrical damage to any cables or distribution equipment that would suggest any kind of significant electrical surge or discharge. We did not compensate for items the customer had said were destroyed because these electrical items had a “resistive load” and it would not be possible for them to be affected by changes in the electricity current or otherwise. The only item that would be vulnerable to a power surge would be the resident’s laptop. After some discussions, on 16 June 2021, we confirmed that although we could not find evidence that we have been negligent, our final compensation offer was made of £650, and confirmation given that we would be feeding back the customer’s concerns in regard to the service he received.  

The customer declined our offer and asked the Ombudsman to investigate. The Ombudsman investigated the complaint and confirmed that there was no maladministration in our handling of the electrics works but there was reasonable redress by the landlord in respect of the complaint. 

The Ombudsman concluded that there is no evidence of reports of issues with the electrics being made and not responded to by us. We carried out our routine inspection and having been notified at that point of problems, we took steps to rearrange an inspection, at which some issues with the electrics were found and addressed. There is no evidence that we breached our obligations with respect to safety. The Ombudsman confirmed that we were not obliged to compensate for items the customer said were destroyed by faulty electrics, as there was no evidence of faulty electrics that would destroy items as described.

The Ombudsman concluded that we took too long to respond to the complaint in accordance with the timescales set out in our complaints policy and procedural guidance.  We recognised this delay, apologised, and offered compensation in recognition of the service failure which went above and beyond the recommendations of our own compensation policy and the Ombudsman’s guidance. 

We have complied with the recommendations made by the Ombudsman.

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