Council delays leave Kingston man without an oven or boiler for over a month

By Charlotte Lillywhite - Local Democracy Reporter

17th May 2024 | Local News

Guildhall complex's main building in Kingston. (Photo: Charlotte Lillywhite/LDRS)
Guildhall complex's main building in Kingston. (Photo: Charlotte Lillywhite/LDRS)

A Kingston resident said he was forced to spend an extra £530 after council delays left him without an oven and boiler for more than a month.

Kingston Council has offered to pay the man extra compensation after a watchdog investigation into the delays.

The man, named Mr X in the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report, complained the council's original offer of compensation did not fully address the 'inconvenience and additional expenses' he incurred after he was left without a working oven and boiler for 46 days.

The council has now offered to pay him an extra £250 on top of the £460 it had already paid him, which brings the total compensation to £710.

It said it is committed to making sure residents have a 'safe and comfortable' place to live.

When Mr X moved into the temporary accommodation in July, he told the council the boiler and oven were not working. The council asked the private landlord to repair the appliances, but Mr X complained at the end of July the boiler had not been fixed.

The report said the repairs were not completed until mid-August, which left Mr X without a working boiler and oven for 46 days. Mr X said he had to pay a higher utility bill of around £280 and an extra £250 for food due to the issues.

The council acknowledged the delay in repairing the appliances and paid him £460 in December. The ombudsman ruled this sum was not enough to compensate Mr X, while also finding the council further at fault for taking around four months to pay him after making the offer in August.

The watchdog found this delay would have caused him further 'financial hardship, distress and inconvenience'.

The report said: "The council have acknowledged delay in repairing the appliances and here I have made a finding of fault. Delay in repairing the appliances caused an ongoing inconvenience to Mr X, and also meant he incurred additional expenses by increasing his use of alternative utilities and pursuing alternative eating arrangements in the absence of a functioning oven."

The council also changed its policy following the watchdog investigation to require temporary accommodation providers to give contractor details to reduce dependence on the landlord to arrange repairs and the time taken to complete them.

A Kingston Council spokesperson said: "We are committed to doing all we can to provide quality housing for residents and ensure people in the borough have a safe and comfortable place to live.

"We are currently supporting close to 1,000 families in the borough with temporary accommodation, a large number of the temporary accommodation provided are sourced through private landlords and with appliances provided by the landlords as in this instance.

"We are satisfied that the ombudsman has found our offer fair and proportionate. We have apologised to Mr X and full settlement has been paid.

"The national housing crisis is a critical situation, with demand for properties increasingly outstripping supply. Across London, there has been a 40 per cent drop in landlords letting their properties to councils.

"We are currently undertaking a major regeneration in the borough to provide 2,170 new homes, with 871 new council homes on the Cambridge Road Estate. This includes an extra 104 council homes announced this year over and above the original plan and will deliver 254 council homes in the first phase of the project.

"We are also delivering a small sites programme which will have a further 101 new council homes, these are the first new council homes built in the borough in almost 40 years."

     

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