Fined £700 for failing to heed tenant's complaints
Ombudsman said delays made damp and mould in flat significantly worse
April 6, 2022
Ealing Council has been fined after it took nine months to make repairs that led to a maggot infestation in a tenant’s flat. Ealing Council was fined £700 by the Housing Ombudsman after failing to fix a ventilation unit and pipework that led to maggots crawling into the unnamed tenant’s bathroom.
According to the ombudsman’s report, the resident got in touch with the council in late June 2020 to officially complain that he had maggots crawling from an outside pipe and through toilet and bathroom vents into his flat. The report says the council advised the tenant to seal the bathroom vents and in the meantime would investigate who was responsible for the pipe.
Although the council contacted the tenant to update him on the progress of his official complaint, they did not update him regarding the investigation into the maggots until January 2021. The council came to inspect the flat in late March 2021 and discovered that the maggots had got into and were feeding on debris in an airflow box inside the vent because there was no cover on the vent’s roof outlet.
According to the report, the council cleared away the maggots and debris and said that, following an asbestos test, one metre of piping connecting to the bathroom and toilet extractor fans would be replaced. However, the ombudsman said that it took the council a further five months to do the asbestos test, with the necessary repairs finally carried out in September 2021.
According to the council, the reason for the delay in carrying out the asbestos test and repairs was due to a backlog caused by the pandemic. The tenant said that in the nine months the bathroom vents had been sealed, damp and mould had grown in the bathroom, causing damage. The ombudsman ruled that the council took too long to address the cause of the maggots, which also impacted the growth of mould in the flat.
In its report, the ombudsman said, “Carrying out an inspection straight away to help identify the cause of the problem would have gone a long way to reduce the long delays experienced by the resident. It is probable that by allowing the bathroom to remain in a state with significantly reduced ventilation for a period of approximately nine months from June 2020 to 29 March 2021, the damp and mould problems were made significantly worse.”
It also ruled that, since the tenant was forced to chase the council six times for a response to their complaint, the council did not handle the complaints process appropriately.
A spokesperson for Ealing Council said, “The council is aware of this case and we have cooperated throughout with the Ombudsman’s investigation. The service has faced significant challenges because of COVID-19, which had created a backlog of repair cases.
“We have apologised to the tenant and offered compensation for the delay in resolving this issue.”
Lisa Haseldine - Local Democracy Reporter