Housing association apologises after delay in dealing with damp and mice
The ombudsman’s investigations have prompted a review by the A2Dominion Group of 5,000 past cases.
A housing association which apologised after a 66-year-old woman had water coming into her bedroom for over a year while a man had to wait 18 months for a mice infestation to be dealt with is reviewing its handling of thousands of other cases.
The Housing Ombudsman awarded the west London residents a combined total of around £8,000 in compensation after “multiple missed opportunities” by A2Dominion Group to address failings meant they were “living with significant disrepair for a prolonged period”.
The ombudsman’s investigations have prompted a review by the housing association of 5,000 previous cases and how they were handled.
The woman, who had long-term health problems, reported water coming through the light fitting in her bedroom and plaster crumbling due to the amount of damp, making the room uninhabitable.
The man, whose age was not given, had to wait almost 16 months for damp and mould caused by a leak in the roof to be fixed – despite a contractor telling the housing provider that the home was not fit to live in for 10 of those months, the ombudsman said.
The man, who had complex needs with mental health concerns, also endured a wait of a year and a half for a mice infestation in his home to be addressed, despite a contractor reporting the resident was “living in bad conditions” and the kitchen needed to “come out” as the units had rotted, the ombudsman added.
A2Dominion Group said it had created a dedicated damp and mould team in 2022 which has reviewed around 5,000 previous cases, and acknowledged that there are “a number of cases from a few years ago that have led to very poor outcomes for customers”.
Of the two cases looked at by the ombudsman, the housing association said: “We would like to offer our sincere apologies to both of our residents for the problems they experienced with damp, mould and repairs in their homes, and we acknowledge the distress this inevitably caused them. The safety of our customers remains our number one priority.”
They admitted to “significant delays in our response in terms of repairs carried out, communications with our customers and in the way we escalated their issues”, and that they had initially offered insufficient compensation to cover the distress and inconvenience caused by lack of repairs.
Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway said the cases saw residents with health conditions “let down by their landlord”.
He added: “The impact of these disrepair issues would be hard for any household to handle but makes it even more serious when there is a health condition involved.
“There were multiple missed opportunities to resolve these issues but these were lost which resulted in the residents living with significant disrepair for a prolonged period.”
He warned it is likely there will be more damp and mould reported as winter approaches and said landlords should undertake the ombudsman’s recommended self-assessment in order to improve their response.
Mr Blakeway branded it “simply unacceptable” for landlords not to be aware of their residents’ vulnerabilities or to know about them but not take them into account.