Council tenants awarded £40,000 for damp and mould issues

Council tenants awarded £40,000 for damp and mould issues

0:04 AM, 19th March 2024, About 3 months ago

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Three council tenants have been awarded a total of £40,000 by the Housing Ombudsman after enduring unacceptable living conditions caused by damp and mould.

The Ombudsman identified ‘severe maladministration’ by Lewisham Council in all three cases.

The compensation reflects the impact on the residents’ well-being and the loss of enjoyment of their homes due to the council’s failings.

‘Significant cases for learning from damp and mould’

Richard Blakeway, the Housing Ombudsman, said: “These are three significant cases for learning from damp and mould.

“Until recently, this is an area that has not always been taken sufficiently seriously or tackled urgently by landlords, sometimes leaving residents in unhabitable homes and conditions they would never live in themselves.

“The financial awards at this level are unusual, reflecting the impact on the residents and the prolonged period of service failure they experienced.”

He added: “It is crucial landlords learn the lessons of these cases so that funding can go into services rather than redress service failings.”

Council had to pay nearly £20,000

The first case involves a family with young children and the council had to pay nearly £20,000 after it failed to address damp and mould issues in their home.

The problems were so severe that there was mould on a baby’s cot bed.

The council blamed the residents’ lifestyle without proper investigation and offered only annual mould washes despite ongoing leaks.

Another resident faced delays and a lack of communication from the council regarding a leak that caused damp and mould.

The leak went unaddressed for over a year, leading to damaged belongings and an unusable bedroom.

The resident’s attempts to get updates from the council were often met with silence.

A third resident suffering from allergies, asthma and mental health issues was awarded £19,500 after the council failed to repair windows for six years.

Despite reports of ‘brown plaster’ and windows in ‘poor condition’, the council only addressed the issue piecemeal over an extended period, allowing severe damp and mould to develop.

‘Our failures could have been prevented’

In a statement, Lewisham Council said: “We have identified in all three cases our failures could have been prevented by better record keeping; better communication within the organisation and with our residents regarding their complaints; and a more pro-active/preventative approach to repairs and maintenance.

“Since taking over from Lewisham Homes in October, the Council has taken steps to improve services.

“We have mobilised an immediate short-term improvement plan, along with a full transformation plan to deliver long term improvements to the Repairs Service.

“Following an Order from the Housing Ombudsman in November 2023 we commissioned an external organisation to carry out an additional review of our repairs service, including access to our service, communications and identifying and completing repairs.”

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