Wandsworth Council made to compensate woman for 'significant injustice'
Wandsworth Town Halle. Picture: Google Streetview
September 12, 2022
Wandsworth Council will have to pay a mum almost £6,000 after she waited more than five years for extensive repairs to her home. The mum, who was abused by her ex-partner, said she was unsafe in the home which had a front door that didn't close properly and a cracked window.
The unnamed woman, known only as Miss X, was moved to the temporary home in 2019 after being housed by the council in 2017 when she became homeless with her children. She reported damp and mould in the home, mice and unsafe stairs. She raised concerns about the kitchen, bathroom leaks, the front door not opening or closing properly and damage to windows and a gate.
A report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found the council at fault for delays in carrying out multiple repairs, including 11 months for a bathroom repair and an eight-month delay in replacing her front door. Miss X had to wait almost a year for her kitchen to be replaced, with the ombudsman ruling the council contributed to the delay by six months.
The report also found a six-month delay in repairing a gate and a delay of more than a month to repair a cracked window. The report said works on “unsafe” stairs at the home still hadn't started and mouse proofing works hadn't been completed more than two years after they were meant to be. It said Miss X had to report some problems more than once.
The report said, “I have found fault by the council for delay completing repairs to Miss X's temporary accommodation. This amounts to over five years of delay across the various issues. The delays in repairs to windows and the door and external gate meant that Miss X did not feel secure in her home. This is a significant injustice. Especially given the move to the property was to keep her and the children safe.
“The external stairs are a serious safety concern for Miss X and her children. The stairs are intended to be a fire escape for the property. Failure to maintain them caused Miss X avoidable stress and could have put the family at risk of harm. This is a significant injustice to Miss X.” It added: The records show that Miss X had to go to significant time and trouble pursuing the repairs with the Council. This is an injustice to Miss X.”
The council must apologise to Miss X and pay her £5,900 and confirm the expected completion date of all outstanding repairs and whether it accepts she needs a particular type of home and area for any permanent offer of a home to be suitable. It has also been told to take action to improve services.
A spokesperson for Wandsworth Council said, “We accept there were delays in carrying out repairs and other actions at this property, some of which were due to a lack of available materials, but also as a result of the lockdown restrictions that were in place at the height of the pandemic when many of these repair requests were raised with us. We have however agreed to apologise to the tenant for these delays and pay her a sum of compensation.”
Charlotte Lillywhite - Local Democracy Reporter