Havering Council criticised over rehousing of family with disabled daughter
Archived press release
Date Published: 20/01/12
The London Borough of Havering failed to consider its duties under the Disability Discrimination Act when it didn’t rehouse a family with a disabled daughter in a suitable property even though they had top priority, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin.
In her report, issued today, she says that the Council should offer the family suitable accommodation without delay, pay them £4,000 in recognition of their injustice, and review the wording of its lettings policy.
The eldest of three daughters suffers from multiple sclerosis affecting her mobility, vision, continence and some cognitive processes – and she needs assistance accessing the bedrooms and bathroom upstairs. Her mother made a housing waiting list application that was supported by an occupational therapist’s report. This said that her daughter’s mobility was likely to deteriorate and that she may require a ground floor bedroom and bathroom. The application was placed in the highest priority band, with three-bedroom eligibility.
A three-bedroom property with two ground floor reception rooms became available and the mother believed her daughter could use one ground floor room as her bedroom. Her bid had the highest priority, but the Council decided it was unsuitable, saying that the daughter required a ground floor bedroom and, if she used a ground floor reception room as a bedroom, there would be four bedrooms and the family was only assessed to need three. The Council confirmed the bid would have been successful if the daughter had not needed to use a ground floor room as a bedroom.
The Ombudsman said “I conclude that, had it not been for the daughter’s disability, the family would have been rehoused. The Council’s decision was unfair and illogical. It failed to give due consideration to the family’s circumstances and its obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (now replaced by the Equality Act 2010) and failed to follow its own Equalities and Diversity Policy.”
She also found that the Council’s lettings policy is ambiguous and that the Council had not applied it fairly and properly.
The Ombudsman finds maladministration causing injustice and recommends the Council to:
- make the complainant a suitable offer of accommodation without delay
- pay her and her family £4,000 in recognition of the injustice they have been caused and the loss of opportunity to be rehoused in more suitable premises
- arrange and pay for an additional week of respite care for the eldest daughter, and
- review the wording of its lettings policy.
Report ref no 10 008 622