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Lambeth Council to undergo inspection into complaint handling after ‘concerning’ reoccurrence of cases

The Housing Ombudsman has raised concerns with Lambeth Council after residents from a previously resolved case had the problems return, with the landlord once again not dealing with the issues satisfactorily and the Ombudsman finding maladministration.
Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway

This has led to the Ombudsman using paragraph 11 of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme to scrutinise evidence of complaints handling through an inspection of the landlord including through an in-person inspection of evidence. It is the first time these powers have been used.

The Ombudsman will evaluate evidence of the landlord’s complaint handling, including compliance with recent orders and recommendations and previous decisions relating to service improvements. It has engaged with both residents and the landlord on these cases and will establish how the landlord allowed the issues to resurface.

The poor complaint handling in these subsequent cases included not following its policies, failing to fully investigate the issues nor offering appropriate remedies. The Ombudsman would have expected to see more improvement in complaint handling following its special report in February 2022, especially as the landlord should have been aware of the issues in complaints previously investigated.

The Ombudsman is also due to hold an open meeting with residents of Lambeth Council, hosted by the landlord, in September to hear about the issues facing them and the landlord.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “Following recent determinations, I am proposing my team engage with the landlord to establish why the service failures reoccurred in these and any other relevant cases, using paragraph 11 of our Scheme.

“This paragraph allows us assemble evidence, including by inspection, to ensure the landlord is taking robust steps following our recent decisions in order to make significant improvements to its complaints handling.

“Following this engagement, the Ombudsman may also make further recommendations for service improvement.”

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