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Ombudsman launches investigations into three London landlords

The Housing Ombudsman has launched special investigations into Camden Council, Hackney Council and Hyde Group over maladministration.
Two severe maladministration findings for Southern Housing following damp and mould investigation

Special investigations are launched by the Ombudsman using paragraph 49 of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme to see if issues it sees in its casework are indicative of wider failings within the landlord.

The reports will subsequently make recommendations that the Ombudsman will use to help drive service improvements and deliver effective social housing for residents.

All three landlords have either high maladministration rates or increasing findings in these areas, including several findings of severe maladministration, and the Ombudsman will use the findings in the report to drive learning in these landlords and the wider sector.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “Complaints are an essential tool for landlords to learn and improve. We have concerns about how each landlord has handled these types of complaints and will therefore use paragraph 49 of our Scheme to investigate further.

“Safe and secure social housing has never been more important and the learning from these reports will help strengthen the landlords approach to important areas and improve outcomes for residents.

“We will work with the landlord after the reports to ensure the recommendations are embedded and that change is reflected in the complaints that do or do not come to us.”

Hyde Group statement 

We’re sorry that we’ve let some of our customers down and we’re taking every complaint we receive extremely seriously. We’re looking forward to working with the Housing Ombudsman and welcome the opportunity to reflect on where we’ve got things wrong. We’ll also be able to demonstrate how we’ve changed, so that we’re listening to customers, and working with them to improve their services, by putting their needs first.

We’ve made fundamental changes to how we work since some of these complaints were raised a couple of years ago. For example, we’ve improved how we tackle damp and mould and spent an extra £2mn on addressing issues last year. We’ve also streamlined our complaints handling process and hired more colleagues to resolve cases faster and keep customers updated, which is already having a positive effect. However, we recognise we must continue to build on the changes we’ve already delivered.

Hackney Council statement 

We recognise and apologise that at times the service we have provided our residents has not met the standards we expect and they deserve.

Changes we have introduced over the last 18 months to the way we work is resulting in faster response times for completing repairs and tackling leaks as well as damp and mould. We have made a commitment to inspect reports of damp and mould within five days and to visit reports of leaks by the end of the next day.

While we face many challenges including maintaining and repairing an ageing housing stock, our work towards fully achieving both of these targets is reflected by an improvement  across all of our tenant satisfaction measures. However, we know we still have more to do.

We will work closely with the Ombudsman to look at how we can build on this recent improvement to further improve the quality of life for our residents.

Camden Council Cabinet Member for Better homes, Councillor Meric Apak

We want every one of our tenants to live in a home that is safe, dry and warm and we are absolutely determined to deliver on this despite the mounting financial challenge that we face. After years of underfunding from government, councils with large housing stocks like ours have been stretched to the limit and resources have been overwhelmed.

However, we have not shied away. Instead, we have set up new teams to tackle damp and mould, and to make repairs. We welcome the opportunity to work with the Ombudsman at this crucial time, as we establish higher standards across our services.

Last year we established a dedicated damp and mould team that has worked on over 6,000 homes – making emergency visits and fixing problems. We are now reaching out again to our most vulnerable tenants.

The damp and mould cases that were raised by the Ombudsman some time ago have now been resolved. However, there is more work to be done. Our commitment to our residents is to continue working with urgency and determination to deliver the high standard of housing that they deserve.

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