London council left a homeless family in a cockroach-infested, dirty and mouldy houses.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman have published a report about an incident where London Borough of Haringey placed a homeless family in two properties and did not correctly handled the disrepair issues present.

At their first property, the family reported boiler and gas supply problems. At one point, they were left for eight days without hot water, heating and cooking facilities. There was also damp, mould, broken locks and cockroach infestation.

In December 2017, the mother requested a suitability review of the accommodation. The council did not carry out the review and it was not until four months later that the council offered the family a new property. The statutory timescale is usually half of that. Some of the issues were still not resolved before their departure.

The mother and daughter were then moved to a second property which still had a number of problems. Before she moved in, the new occupant saw general disrepair of the property. It was incredibly dirty, and the garden was full of rubbish which was not removed. The mother requested a suitability review of this property as well. This time it took eight months to complete.

The report by Ombudsman found a large error in the way the council handled the family’s requests for suitability review of the properties. Additionally, it incorrectly dealt with the reports they received from the family about the state of the property. Following their complaints, the family was also directed by the council to the wrong Ombudsman. We find this action particularly suspicious and underhanded.

This incident occurred after the Haringey council was already warned about their inadequate property suitability review procedures. Whilst the council promised to implement some changes, it seems to us that they have failed to keep their word.

The Ombudsman have recommended the council to apologise to the complainant for the injustice and compensate her financially with £1,600. She should also be reimbursed for cleaning and physical purchases for the second property. An inspection of the property should also be carried out with the mother present and provide a schedule of works that will take place. Further changes should also be enforced, most importantly for an audit to be carried out and for council to review its record-keeping regarding temporary housing.

From what we know, the council agreed to make an apology to the family, however only agreed to pay part of the compensation. When reflecting on the experience the family went through, it does not seem like enough of a reparation from the side of the Haringey council. Fortunately, this time the council will not be able to continue with false promises, as they are required to take the report into consideration. Within three months, they must provide the information on what action it proposes or has taken, and supply evidence that the report has been considered by its full Council, cabinet or therefore equivalent.

At Phoenix Legal Solicitors, we believe no one should have to tolerate conditions of disrepair in their accommodation when they are entitled to be provided with essential repairs, especially if they have clearly notified the council of the condition of the property. Carrying out a review should also not be unreasonably delayed. You are entitled to be compensated for your inconvenience and suffering.

If you believe you live in a property in a poor state of repair and the issue is not being dealt with, do not hesitate to contact a member of our team on 0151 306 3694.

Alternatively, you can start your claim by filling out a short form on our website and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We offer free consultations to our clients. We operate on a no win no fee agreement, which allows you to make a claim without paying any solicitors’ fees upfront.