London tenant who complained about 'years of disrepair' in flat wins £21k back in rent and compensation

Stressed young woman in the bedroom
-Credit: (Image: kieferpix via Getty Images)

A tenant who waited years for the council to carry out repair works to their London flat is set to receive £21k in compensation. Westminster City Council said it would hand back £16k in rent paid since May 2020 and pay out £5k for distress and delays following an internal review, a council report showed.

The London authority said it is working with the joint tenant to find appropriate housing and blamed staff moving on for the delays. Westminster City was made aware of repair issues at the flat in May 2020 when the tenant, who is a wheelchair user and has multiple illnesses, asked for adaptations to be made before they returned from hospital.

The council installed a level access shower and a new central heating. In July 2022, the council was contacted by the tenant’s local MP who complained about many years of disrepair at the property and how it was affecting the elderly and ill tenants.

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Westminster City Council offices on Victoria Street.
The case will go before Westminster City Council's general purposes committee on June 5 -Credit:Google

The complaint was dismissed by the council which said it had not received a request for repairs in 12 months. It also said officers had made attempts to visit the flat but were unsuccessful because the tenants, who have not been identified, needed their daughter there to help them.

The resident escalated the complaint in September 2022 but took the council six months to log it and another six weeks to respond. There was a further seven month delay dealing with the resident’s refusal of a compensation offer and a further four week delay in addressing their request for a review.

An interview review of the case was only triggered after the resident wrote in requesting £110k in compensation for the distress the delays had caused. The review found the council did not address issues raised in the original complaint nor recognise the vulnerability of the tenant.

It also found the council’s response contained “inaccuracies” about ad-hoc visits being arranged and a failure of repairmen to log issues and pass them on. The report said: “This review has found significant service failures in both dealing with the repairs and responding to the complaint, as well as missed opportunities to discuss a move to more suitable housing with the tenant.”

The tenant has since been moved into care while the joint tenant is receiving help finding permanent housing. The council is seeking the permission of the General Purposes Committee to pay the tenant £21,407 in compensation.

It has also vowed to carry out more frequent housing support reviews for residents and acknowledged a lack of oversight from directors. It is also seeking to make it easier for severely ill tenants to escalate complaints.

According to the council, compensation payments over £2k need to come before the General Purposes committee to meet its own financial regulations. The committee will review the case on Wednesday, June 5.

Westminster City Council said it would not comment on the case until a decision had been made by committee.

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