Housing secretary writes to 105,000-home association after damning Housing Ombudsman report

Michael Gove has written to L&Q to express his “grave concern” after the housing association was ordered to pay more than £140,000 in compensation to tenants for poor services.

The Housing Secretary said the findings from the Housing Ombudsman’s special report are “completely unacceptable.”

He said: “L&Q must ensure all tenants get the safe, warm and decent homes they deserve.


Michael Gove has written to L&Q to express his concern

“I have written to L&Q expressing my grave concerns about their failure to carry out their duties to support vulnerable residents – they must now take immediate action to address these wrongdoings. “I am confident the ombudsman will be working closely with L&Q to ensure all severe failings are swiftly addressed.”

The Housing Ombudsman, in a special report yesterday, said it had determined 103 cases between January and 26 June, finding 24 cases of severe maladministration and ordering L&Q to pay £141,860 compensation in total. The ombudsman said its investigation identified L&Q policies and procedures not being adhered to, a resistance to constructive feedback and learning from complaints and a “poor knowledge and information management culture”. The probe was launched by the ombudsman after it became concerned about L&Q’s handling of complaints in December.

The ombudsman report said the findings “are indicative of a period of wider systemic failure”.

It said: “During this period the landlord failed to take sufficient action to address the root cause driving the issues it was facing, and act effectively on its own monitoring and reporting of service provision, as well as the warning signs that were evident in its complaints and independent reviews – leading to a prolonged period of decline in its services.”

Responding to the report, Fiona Fletcher-Smith, chief executive of L&Q, said the landlord recognised that it had “got things wrong”, and is personally contacting residents whose complaints have been judged to involve service failure of maladministration.

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She said L&Q has already “made significant progress to address the operational issues highlighted in this report” .She said L&Q has a £3bn 15-year major works investment programme, is working to transform the ‘quality and responsiveness’ of its repairs service and is working to tackle damp and mould, installing 14,000 humidity sensors. She said L&Q’s new, localised housing management approach implemented last year is putting 30% more frontline workers in local neighbourhoods, and has invested £40m in a new housing management system.

She said: “We are overhauling our complaints handling, investing in additional staff, training and other resources, prioritising efficiency and good communication, and embedding learning from complaints in our process. We’re already seeing a reduction in the time it takes to resolve complaints”

The report comes at a time of renewed focus on consumer regulation social housing following last week’s passing into law of the Social Housing (Regulation) Act. The act gives the RSH powers to routinely inspect landlords, issue unlimited fines and access properties at short notice.

Gove said: “Our landmark Social Housing Act is now law, meaning rogue landlords can no longer hide from their responsibilities and must act quickly when issues are raised, including on damp and mould, as we introduce new strict time limits to fix homes through Awaab’s Law.

The RSH on Tuesday published details of its new consumer standards.