Ealing Council Ordered to Review Suitability of Mouldy Flat for Family of Five

Ealing Council was found in maladministration by the Housing Ombudsman for failing to address a family's complaints about a mouldy flat. The council has apologized and agreed to conduct a suitability review and offer alternative accommodation to the family.

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Nitish Verma
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Ealing Council Ordered to Review Suitability of Mouldy Flat for Family of Five

Ealing Council Ordered to Review Suitability of Mouldy Flat for Family of Five

The Housing Ombudsman has found Ealing Council in maladministration and ordered a review of the suitability of a mouldy flat where a family of five, including three children, has been living since October 2021. The privately owned 2-bedroom flat, provided by the council as temporary accommodation, has had persistent mould and damp issues, which the mother, Miss X, says have negatively impacted her children's health.

Why this matters: This case highlights the systemic failures in providing adequate temporary housing to vulnerable families, which can have long-term consequences on their health and well-being. It also underscores the need for local authorities to prioritize the welfare of those in need and ensure that temporary accommodations meet basic standards of safety and habitability.

Despite Miss X's repeated complaints about the property's condition and size, the council failed to conduct a section 202 suitability review or inform her of her right to request one. In January 2022, the council advised Miss X to complete a medical form, which was later deemed insufficient to grant medical priority for a new property. A leak in the children's bedroom reoccurred in March 2022, and Miss X was told not to use the electrics until repairs were completed in early April.

The Ombudsman reported that as of January 2024, Miss X and her family were still experiencing mould and damp issues, despite the council's efforts to improve the situation. The Ombudsman has ordered Ealing Council to conduct a section 202 suitability review, inform Miss X of her right to request a review, and take steps to improve the property's condition.

In response, Ealing Council has apologized for the substandard service and acknowledged the need to improve its complaints handling process. The council has agreed to take the actions recommended by the Ombudsman, including conducting a statutory Section 202 suitability review and commissioning an environmental report on the property. The council is also offering the family alternative accommodation while the issues are addressed.

This case is not an isolated incident, as other families have faced similar challenges with unsuitable temporary accommodation provided by local councils. Shaniece Nugent, a 26-year-old mother, and her baby boy have been living in a mouldy flat on the White City Estate in Shepherd's Bush, West London, since May 2023. The flat, managed by Hammersmith and Fulham Council, has persistent mould and damp issues due to an unresolved leak from a leasehold flat above. Ms. Nugent's GP has written to the council's housing department requesting that she and her child be re-housed due to the unsuitable living conditions affecting their health.

These cases highlight the ongoing issue of inadequate temporary accommodation provided by local councils and the impact on the health and well-being of vulnerable families. The Housing Ombudsman's intervention in the Ealing Council case serves as a reminder of the legal obligations councils have to ensure the suitability of temporary accommodation and to promptly address any issues raised by tenants. As more families come forward with similar experiences, it is clear that local authorities must take swift action to improve the standard of temporary housing and prioritize the welfare of those in need.