In the first joint investigation made by the two Ombudsmen’s services, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) and the Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) have jointly criticised Nottingham City Council and Nottingham City Homes (NCH) for the way they dealt with the woman’s antisocial behaviour complaints and subsequent requests to move house.
The Ombudsmen are working together on complaints where their roles are closely linked. For example, in this case HOS investigated the tenancy management response to the antisocial behaviour and a staff complaint, whilst LGSCO considered the use of the Council’s general powers to address antisocial behaviour, and its housing allocations actions.
For two years between June 2020 and June 2022, the woman – who has medical vulnerabilities – was subject to issues including loud noise, alcohol issues, stones and mud being thrown onto her property and neighbours ‘ganging up on her’ – all of which left her feeling unsafe in her home.
Despite this, Nottingham City Council did not do enough to review the issues she faced via the Community Trigger Mechanism, and NCH, on behalf of the council, took too long to examine whether it could offer her a priority move to another area.
Paul Najsarek, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “The case demonstrates the benefit of us increasingly taking a partnership approach to investigating complaints with the Housing Ombudsman Service where our jurisdictions overlap.
“The Antisocial Behaviour Community Trigger was set up for exactly this sort of case, where vulnerable people are affected by antisocial behaviour local authorities can convene multi-agency meetings to see how they can best deal with problems.
“In this case, the behaviour the woman was subject to was having a clear impact on her mental health and she was left for too long in a situation that could have been improved had all organisations carried out their duties efficiently.
“I am pleased the council and NCH has agreed to our recommendations to put things right for this woman.”
Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “The landlord did not make use of its powers to effectively tackle antisocial behaviour and help a resident, who was presenting with mental health needs. This was unacceptable.
“This joint work with the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman shows how joint investigations can improve services in multiple areas at the same time, whilst providing holistic redress for residents.
“In the coming months, we will be undertaking more of these joint investigations so that we are able to encourage landlords to view policies and procedures in key areas such as anti-social behaviour.”
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman remedies injustice and shares learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council will review its processes to ensure that tenants receive written decisions and information about their review rights from NCH when the organisation is acting on its behalf.
The council has agreed to produce an information sheet to give to people who report antisocial behaviour. It will also review how it can share information with different organisations when people report issues and provide staff guidance about the proper process to follow.
The Housing Ombudsman ordered Nottingham City Homes to apologise to the resident, pay £550 in compensation and to create an action plan to ensure that its staff maintain clear and accurate records of their interactions with alleged perpetrators of ASB in future.