The Housing Ombudsman has found severe maladministration for a housing provider after it failed to respond appropriately to a resident’s complaints about noise nuisance.

They ordered the chief executive of Six Town Housing to apologise on behalf of the landlord directly to a resident after her noise nuisance complaints were ignored or not acted effectively on for nearly two years.

When staff did acknowledge the complaints, the internal correspondence contained ‘inappropriate’ remarks, including officers saying they “could not be bothered to add the resident’s calls to its system”.

The Ombudsman said that irrespective of the officer’s views about her reports, the landlord should have treated her with respect and clearly communicated its position. However, the investigation found evidence that the landlord chose not to respond to the resident and closed cases without contacting her.

The landlord also failed to take into consideration the detrimental impact of consistently failing to respond over a prolonged period. Nor did it manage the resident’s expectations by not clearly explaining to her which reports were considered to constitute ASB and which ones were not.

In one month alone, the resident filled out 16 diary sheets, but landlord records do not show these were ever reviewed.

Later when later the resident said she could not complete the diary forms due to worsening mental health, the ombudsman found no evidence the landlord considered reasonable adjustments to help her.

The Housing Ombudsman ordered the landlord to pay £1,100 in compensation and review the resident’s current ASB concerns, implementing a clear action plan to address them.

The landlord was given six weeks to provide clear guidance to its staff about the importance of objective record keeping and using professional language.

In its learning from the case, the landlord said it has revised and refreshed its complaint handling policy, placed more onus on good record keeping and offered the resident involved in this case extra tenancy support.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “There is clear and repeated evidence of a lack professionalism by the landlord in response to its resident’s requests for help. These failings were over a prolonged period and meant the landlord failed to follow its own ASB policy and procedure.

“The result was significant distress for its resident over a long period of time. This led the resident to understandably feel victimised by her landlord.

“The sector needs to respond to noise nuisance far more effectively. It is a significant driver of complaints after disrepair. I would encourage landlords to reconsider our Spotlight report on noise nuisance and develop action plans to deal with this, especially during summer when we know more reports are being made.

“This case also reflects once more the continued problems that landlords are having with their recording keeping and the detrimental impact this can have on residents. Our Knowledge and Information Management report put forward 21 recommendations on how landlords can get to grips with this.”

The Housing Ombudsman also found maladministration for how the landlord handled the complaint.

In a learning statement, Six Town Housing said: “This complaint regarding the handling of anti-social behaviour was taken through our board governance arrangements for oversight.

“It has led to a review of our processes at Six Town Housing, and we’re deeply sorry on this occasion our approach did not deliver the quality of service we would expect and that our internal processes didn’t highlight the issue sooner within the organisation.

“We are committed to learning from our mistakes, and in ensuring that errors do not reoccur.

“As such, we have completed a full review and ensured that systems and our staff are providing the best support, and positive outcomes to our customers including:

  • All staff have been reminded of their responsibilities in accurate record keeping, this includes complaint handling, and ensuring a customer first approach.
  • We have revised and refreshed our complaints handling policy and this was launched on 1 April 2023 with training for staff where necessary.
  • We have written to the tenant, apologising for our errors and have compensated her with £1,100.
  • In addition, we have offered the tenant additional tenancy support should she wish to use this service and we continue to work with her to manage any anti-social behaviour.

“As an organisation committed to continually improving, we appreciate the role of the Housing Ombudsman in highlighting areas for improvement.”