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Should private landlords be lectured by the social housing sector?

A small proportion of private landlords grab the spotlight because of their poor treatment of tenants and properties - yet figures suggest the overall problem is worse in the social housing sector.

An example has come to light this week with the Housing Ombudsman making two findings of severe maladministration following an investigation into Inquilab Housing Association’s failure to respond to a resident’s damp and mould problems.

The resident had reported that the leaks and outstanding repairs meant her daughter’s bedroom was unusable and their belongings were damaged which impacted on their physical and mental health. 


The Housing Ombudsman’s investigation found the resident had been reporting issues since early 2018. An independent inspection report had recommended various repairs after highlighting issues including a leak in the bathroom and a damp bedroom wall. 

There is no evidence to show that the works were completed or an action plan produced, leaving the repairs outstanding for at least two years.   

The Ombudsman says the social landlord failed to meet its repair obligations as well as its obligations to keep the property free from damp and mould. It did not demonstrate how this failure contributed to the damaged belongings and whether it should have offered redress. It also failed to assess the appropriate level of redress for the loss of one of the bedrooms due to the mould. 

“There was no evidence of any investigation of the complaint by the landlord or any complaint responses being issued. The landlord did not fully engage in the complaint raised by the resident about the repairs and about the damage to her belongings” says a statement.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, comments: “There were severe failings in this case. The resident had repeatedly contacted the landlord and felt it was not treating her concerns seriously. The landlord did not provide details of its plans to follow up and complete the repairs or to provide her with a reasonable response. It failed to demonstrate an awareness of the detriment which the resident was experiencing by its lack of action and lack of reasonable communication.

 “The landlord failed to engage in the complaint despite prompts from our service so lost opportunities to try and resolve it at a local level which the resident had agreed to. Following our decision, I welcome the landlord’s response on its learning from this case and the changes being made to improve its service. I would encourage other landlords to consider the learning this case offers for their own services.”  


The Housing Ombudsman made two findings of severe maladministration – for the landlord’s response to the repair requests and for its complaint handling. 

It ordered the landlord to pay a total of £3,633 compensation, provide a detailed schedule of works to deal with all the outstanding repairs, discuss the scale of the damage to the resident’s possessions and offer redress to reflect this, and conduct a senior management review into the case, including why it failed to carry out the required repairs at the property and failed to raise and respond to a formal complaint despite multiple interventions by the Ombudsman.  

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  • icon

    It's common knowledge that the main offenders here are councils and housing associations, most private landlords respond to faults quickly, I had a call Tuesday morning reporting no heating and the hot tap in the bathroom stuck, I was there by 4.00 pm that afternoon, reprogrammed the thermostat and fitted new tap revivers, all done within an hour and had a cup of tea and a chat with the tenant, that's the service we provide, somewhat different to the social housing providers .


    Completely agree, as a hands on Landlord I provide the same service. Plus over the years I have built good relationship with trades persons for the jobs i cannot do, e.g Gas and electric.
    I have always maintained that a good Landlord has a good partnership with their tenant.
    Like Mr Townsend i will leave the sector totally if we keep getting penalised and it is not something that i want to do either.

  • icon

    Andrew - An accurate account of a typical day in the life of us professional landlords, getting repairs carried out promptly and liaising well with our satisfied tenants! Definitely not of any interest to Generation Rent, Shelter etc!

  • George Dawes

    Of course not , ridiculous to think otherwise

  • icon

    This is a bad recession but some think its a boom, its not in my interest to talk down the market but why walk blind folded into a brick wall. Almost every one in debt and their answer is more debt not sustainable. Councils not helping anyone loading LL’s with costs, regulations and penalties. Some LL’s think we’ll just add it to rent which is not possible, my rents haven’t increased in years yet the existing Tenants are struggling with that. C/tax up 5% /6% this year now talking of hiking it again, utility through the roof, cost of living big increase as every one knows, jobs disappeared, young people roped in to big Mortgages, need I go on. Local Authorities pricing private LL’s out with money grab, who are in essence judge, jury, executioner and beneficiary. Fuel crisis, energy crisis, no one to drive a lorry, pick a daffodil, man the abattoir, 5 million on universal credit, every one wants funding instead of getting their own, to much for a text.


    False life styles based on debt, it's the modern way, not the way that I was brought up in the 60s, then there's work, what is it now a 36 hr week, does anyone do overtime or hold down 2 jobs, there are signs up every where for staff, what's wrong with going to work in a petrol station evenings or weekends ? we have breed generations of lazy entitled people.

    Theodor Cable

    As far as I am concerned, if these Councils add to my already heavy financial burden through their weird schemes to make me pay for, and with no thought of the consequenses, then they can rest assured that I will pass those increases to the tenant.

    Why should I pay for their rabbit brained and whacky ideas?

    Every penny more they make me pay will be added to the tenanta costs plus a 15% add on for my time and my administration costs.

    And if the tenant complains, then it will be clearly explained to them that the issue is with their council and not me. Perhaps they might then complain to the council for once.

    And if they don't like it, they can always leave as there will always be someone who will.

    If I ignore those increases, I would be acting completely in line with any sensible business. ie, If I get more costs, the Client pays. Otherwise I would go bankrupt in a matter of months.


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