A SOCIAL housing provider has been forced to hand over hundreds of pounds in compensation after a pest infestation went unresolved.

The Housing Ombudsman ordered Colchester Borough Homes to compensate two residents after two separate cases of maladministration.

A council report reveals a resident had made a complaint about an infestation and raised concerns to the housing provider about the poor condition of her new home “from an early point in the tenancy”.

The tenant was eventually offered a £40 decoration voucher after Colchester Borough Homes acknowledged the cleanliness of her home “was not up to standard”, which the ombudsman felt was an unreasonable level of compensation.

'Welfare wasn't fully considered'

A second tenant escalated a complaint to the ombudsman after reporting his neighbour had been banging on the wall and playing loud music, which housing bosses could not prove after installing noise monitoring equipment.

Gazette: Town Hall - Colchester Borough Homes is owned by Colchester CouncilTown Hall - Colchester Borough Homes is owned by Colchester Council (Image: Getty)

A further complaint about another neighbour slamming doors and banging dustbin lids was made but was quickly shut down with Colchester Borough Homes dubbing the tenant a “serial complainer”.

The ombudsman determined housing bosses had failed to “fully consider the welfare, safety and wellbeing of the resident” and ordered staff to undertake refresher training.

“The Ombudsman considered that the landlord should have assessed the risk of harm to the resident which may have led to a management move earlier on in the process,” a report says.

“There was no evidence that the landlord had carried out a risk assessment at any stage of the anti-social behaviour investigations.”

The two residents have been awarded £250 and £1,250 in compensation respectively and have received apologies from Colchester Borough Homes bosses, while the company, which is owned by Colchester Council, has also been asked to review its anti-social behaviour policy and procedure.

Housing staff have also been reminded that case management “must be based on the merits of a case” and not based on the history of a tenant.

In the last year, the housing provider received 271 complaints – most of which were resolved without escalation to the Housing Ombudsman.

What does Colchester Borough Homes say?

COLCHESTER Borough Homes says it is “committed to providing high-quality housing” and acknowledges it fell short in these two cases, but that it remains committed to continuous improvement.

A spokesman said: “In the first case, the ombudsman found [we] had not adequately addressed the concerns of a tenant about the condition of her new home. This included a delay in dealing with the presence of fruit fly pests.

“We have reviewed our void standard and have implemented new processes to ensure that properties are in a satisfactory condition for new tenants. We now capture tenant satisfaction with the new home and deal with any outstanding issues at this early stage.

“In the second case, the ombudsman found severe maladministration with [our] handling of an anti-social behaviour case.

“We have reviewed our anti-social behaviour policy and procedures and have implemented new training for our staff. We have also strengthened our systems to proactively take specific actions so that we comprehensively respond to all cases of anti-social behaviour.”

He added bosses believe the actions taken since the incident will “help prevent similar problems” and “ensure all tenants are treated fairly and with respect”.