- Family moved in to a four-bed property in Wythenshaw by Manchester council
- Residents pushed the housing provider nine times for repairs to be carried out
- Forced to stay with relatives in overcrowded house while issues looked into
A mother-of-three has been given a £5,000 payout after being left in a council home riddled with damp, mould and unfixed leaks.
The family of four were moved in to a four-bed property in Wythenshaw by Manchester City Council, knowing that there was a rotten kitchen floor and damp in four rooms.
Despite the residents pushing the housing provider nine times for repairs to be carried out, it failed to resolve these problems, taking 67 weeks to fix a roof leak.
The family were then forced to stay with relatives in an overcrowded house while issues were looked into, as the landlord did not offer them accommodation, a Housing Ombudsman has found.
Manchester council’s chief executive was told to apologise to the mother, who has remained nameless, for the distress and inconvenience caused by living in ‘uninhabitable home’.
Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: ‘There were widespread, multiple and serious failings in this case and the landlord has to undertake significant learning to prevent similar future failure.
‘The combined failings led to a young family being left essentially homeless due to an inhabitable home. The fact the home was unfit to live in before the family even moved is shocking, but the landlord then failed to make things right for the residents with the subsequent repairs needed.
‘These failings included extensive delays, lack of competency in inspections, poor quality works and inadequate coordination and oversight.
‘This caused serious adverse effect on the household. The landlord’s response was hindered by its treatment of the resident’s pre-action letter where instead of resolving the complaint it suspended repairs.
‘We have been clear in our guidance on Pre-Action Protocol for Housing Condition Claims and service complaints that this should not be the case.
‘On top of these failings, the complaint handling also let the landlord down. It took six months to provide a complaint response, denying the resident’s right to have her concerns heard, and failing to issue a response within the timeframe set out in its complaint procedure.
‘There was also little evidence to show that the landlord learned from the outcomes of the case.’
Soon after the family moved in, they complained about mould on the walls as plaster peeled off when trying to decorate the home.
One of the children also tripped in the unsafe garden path, resulting in a cut lip.
According to the ombudsman, the housing provider failed to investigate the underlying cause of the damp and mould, demonstrating a disregard for the family’s wellbeing and safety.
Further issues included water coming up through the kitchen floor and falling through holes in the roof causing leaks to several rooms including the kitchen and bedrooms.
When the mother moved her children back into the home to get them settled for school, much of the repairs remained outstanding, including flooring in the kitchen and bathroom.
This was of particular concern to the occupant, as she had a young child who was crawling.
The resident felt she had no choice but to attempt to fix the problem herself, costing her thousands of pounds, which the landlord did not reimburse her for, despite being totally aware of what was happening.
The council was ordered to calculate the costs of the works the resident had to undertake and reimburse them, as well as provide a detailed review to prevent future failure.
The council says it has now carried out all repairs on the home and added additional insulation as requested by the resident.
The property was previously managed by Northwards Housing, but this housing provider is now run by council directly.
Manchester council says it brought Northwards in-house in a bid to drive further improvements.
Manchester council said: ‘Our focus is delivering the best possible service for our residents and we must fully accept the Ombudsman’s findings in this case. Our actions in managing this home on behalf of our tenant did not match the high standards we expect of our housing service.
‘Our tenants should never feel that they have no other option other than to escalate repair issues to the Ombudsman and we have since visited the resident on a number of occasions to apologise in-person for the distress she has experienced, and we immediately engaged a chartered surveyor to undertake a comprehensive assessment of any outstanding issues at the home.’