The Housing Ombudsman has ordered the Metropolitan Thames Valley (MTV) housing association to pay £3,650 to a Lambeth resident after pests caused damage to her late daughter’s belongings.
Two findings of severe maladministration for MTV’s response to the vulnerable resident’s pest infestation and its associated complaint handling were made by the ombudsman.
The investigation revealed “a prolonged and distressing experience” for the resident.
It was the second severe maladministration finding the Ombudsman has made against MTV over its response to pests. The first followed an investigation into its handling of silverfish published last year.
The Lambeth resident initially complained about a leak and black mould in her property, but MTV failed to respond at stage one of the complaint process.
By the time MTV had issued its stage three and final response, 20 months had elapsed. This delay caused significant distress and inconvenience to the affected resident. It was also a missed opportunity for the landlord to work with the resident and put things right, the ombudsman said.
MTV also failed to respond adequately to the resident’s reports of an infestation of mice and the damage they caused.
This led to a lengthy period of distress for the resident, who had to cut out the bottom of her sofa as mice kept nesting in it. They also damaged personal items had belonged to her late daughter.
The ombudsman said that even after a year of contractors attending and making inspections, the infestation was still occurring.
“The landlord did not show any urgency or empathy for the delays to the works for the resident and cited Covid-19 as an issue, which does not explain some of the delays,” the ombudsman said.
“Despite the resident’s known vulnerabilities and the significant distress caused by handling these issues, the landlord showed a lack of empathy and urgency in completing the necessary work.”
The ombudsman ordered the landlord to apologise to the resident, fix all the necessary repairs and pay £3,650 in compensation.
MTV was also ordered to review the case and strengthen its pest infestations policy.