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Social landlord criticised over “deeply distressing” tenant suicide

The Housing Ombudsman - who presides over social housing landlords - has issued his report on what he calls the “deeply distressing” case of a tenant who took his own life.

The issue concerns Clarion Housing Association, one of the country’s largest HAs 125,000 properties across over 170 local authorities, housing some 350,000 people. 

The Housing Ombudsman has found severe maladministration after a resident ended his own life following long-running mental health issues and a nine-month noise nuisance complaint.


A statement from the Ombudsman says: “We determined that Clarion’s lack of consideration of the resident’s vulnerability when handling his complaints about noise led to the resident suffering over a nine-month period. In the same month the resident first reported the noise issues, which were related to wooden flooring above and children jumping, the resident attempted an overdose, blaming it on the noise nuisance he was suffering. Despite the landlord recording vulnerabilities for the resident, it did not tailor its responses effectively.”

He continues: “In its first response to the resident, the landlord sent a standard Anti Social Behaviour (ASB) letter, agreed to speak to the neighbour and created an action plan for the issue. The neighbour agreed to having carpet fitted, but the resident soon spoke about the little difference this made. At this time, there was no risk assessment conducted by the landlord.

“The landlord said it would not install sounds monitoring equipment due to the Covid-19 lockdown occurring at the time, which was not a reasonable position to take during this time as whilst there were still some restrictions in place, government guidance stated that landlords could carry out repairs and safety inspections.

“When the resident filed two more noise reports, he was once again sent the standard ASB letter he was sent months previously. Over the course of four months, the resident completed 18 noise reports and noise recordings were sent to the landlord but due to some software issues, not all were listened to.

A visit to the property by the landlord found ‘considerable transmission of both noise and movement from the flat above into the resident’s flat’ but nothing more was done.”

After a coroner’s hearing, the Ombudsman ordered Clarion to write a letter of apology to the residents’ family, to review its record keeping, and to review its vulnerable resident’s policy paying regard to how it manages reports of non-statutory noise nuisance, including the use of reasonable adjustments.

A statement from Clarion says: “We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and an unreserved apology for all shortcomings in the service we provided the resident. We recognise that our communication process should have been far better and we accept the recommendations of the Ombudsman with humility.

“The case and actions taken have been reviewed by the senior management team, and our chief customer officer has personally written to the family.

“We continue to make improvements to how we record and act on vulnerability of our residents and we have reviewed our automated letters process to ensure an appropriate response is issued in line with our vulnerability support policy. Our tenancy sustainment and welfare team, who worked with the resident alongside external agencies, also offer advice to our residents and signpost to extra support when required.

“We have also amended our management transfer policy so that includes a broader consideration of risk which better takes into account exceptional circumstances.”

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    There is no excuse not to take noise nuisance seriously. This means that landlords need to contact the offending tenants immediately. This may stop the noise problem. It is equally vital that the landlord follows up with the tenants who have been disturbed after the weekend and subsequently on a regular basis to monitor the situation. If the noise has continued then the landlord needs to warn the offending tenants that possession will be sought for their flat.

    If the property has multiple flats it may be worth checking with other residents if they have been disturbed.

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    Social Housing again. Would a PRS landlord have responded the same way?


    Highly unlikely, I would have thought. I certainly wouldn't have expected my tenants to keep filing noise reports. I would have contacted the disturbed tenant at regular intervals to ask them about the situation myself.

    Peter Why Do I Bother

    Terrible outcome for all concerned. However in answer to your question a PRS landlord would have been round and tuned them in and got it resolved.

    The Covid period of time has got a lot to answer for and so do the government who again rode roughshod over everybody.

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    Social housing to be expected really

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    Assuming noise of children jumping up and down isn't classed as Anti-Social Behaviour (which might be covered by the proposed enhancement of Section 8 if S21 goes), without S21 how would a landlord - whether private or social/public- be able to either force the noisy tenant to stop the noise, or evict them? S21 is a useful 'threat' to be able to deploy: so much so it usually won't need to be mentioned.

    For my next tenancy agreements, I'll make sure my clauses on noise are strong enough, though I don't want to stop children playing musical instruments (unless the drums or electric guitars); particularly in an old house to flats conversion where sound transmission will be greater than in purpose built flats. To try to ensure excessive noise would be a breach of tenancy.

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    Well M/s Edwards once more we know which side you batting for, The possession order you say quite correct but what if section 21 is removed the other sections all require proof for the courts are the other tenants going to tell on a on bad tenant are the courts going to listen to hours days of sound recordings mybe ask the judges to pop round to the flat on a night don't think so section 21 was the only way simple and if you can not see this well you are more than a fool, but a fool with time on there hands and twised view.


    I am on the side of landlords, and I absolutely don't want Section 21 removed. You can't serve Section 21 during a fixed term tenancy until the appropriate time anyway.

    I am however very sympathetic if there is noise nuisance where my tenants are living and would do all I could to stop it for them. I wouldn't like to put up with it, and have been subjected to it as an owner occupier myself.

    The man killed himself because he was driven to distraction.

    You are misinterpreting what I am saying. Why? What is your agenda?


    During a fixed term tenancy when you can't serve Section 21, you can still break the tenancy agreement due to excessive noise.

    According to an advice website there is no set number of noise complaints before you can serve notice in the UK. In most cases, after 2 warnings, you can give your tenants the section 8 notice to evict them using Ground 12 or 14. This gives them at least 2 weeks to move out. If they don't move out within the specified notice period, you can take the matter to the court and apply for a possession order.

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    After talking to the 'offending' tenants to ask to reduce the noise, isn't the next step to contact the council? Don't the council have various powers they can use?


    My understanding is the council has some (environmental health) powers, but could one get a council to actually use them? For a start you'd need to be a person directly affected: I think not a landlord, even if you had a badly affected tenant.
    Some decades ago, the London Borough of Waltham Forest had a strong team dealing with noise nuisance; know as the Party Poopers. But probably gone now with many rounds of cuts.

    Also, I think a council is more likely to act when there is noise affecting the public in general, rather than two neighbours in flats one above the other as in this case. Yes, they can ask complainants to keep a log of problems, but are they likely to treat kids upstairs jumping up and down on floors (later carpeted) as seriously as a loud music system at unsociable hours?

    While councils have many powers, some draconian, in many cases they recognise they often don't have the powers that a landowner/landlord does (or has until S21 goes).


    Yes the council will send recording equipment and if proven will send a notice to the offending household. They also contact the landlord to let them know. If the complaint continues then they expect the landlord to give notice to the noisy tenants. I know this because it happened to my tenants due to their stupid dog barking all the time, and its just another reason why I prefer no pets.


    Good to hear that your Council acted Worried Landlord.
    Particularly as councils actions can be very variable (e.g. in enforcing on poor quality accommodation).
    Quite agree about dogs barking. And you may allow a dog who is well behaved; but then it dies and the replacement dog may not be.

    If you give permission for a pet, perhaps against your better judgment due to provisions in the RRB, I don't see how one could refuse a replacement pet; or even a second one at the same time.

    I had new tenants who paid pet deposits for 2 bull dogs, but then moved in with 3 of them. (I know from something else they thought this was smuggling in, and thought themselves clever.)
    They all bark when anyone is near, and sh*t in the garden (not cleared up) so on a number of occasions workers and I have trod in it.

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    125,00 PROPERTIES ! Will they be covered by the Rental reform Act?


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