Havering Council caused ‘substantial injustice’ to family on housing waiting list

A family suffered “substantial injustice” after town hall chiefs disregarded the Disability Discrimination Act by refusing a council house application, a watchdog has found.

The Local Government Ombudsman report, published this week, also said the wording of Havering Council’s housing allocation policy was defective.

The report, by Dr Jane Martin, added that the council may also have breached the Human Rights Act through its maladministration of the case.

A complaint was made after a woman, called “Miss Ford” in the report (not her real name), living in a three-bedroom house with three daughters aged 24, 23, and 12, was refused a suitable home.

Multiple sclerosis

Her 24-year-old daughter “Anna” (not her real name) has multiple sclerosis which affects her mobility, vision, continence and some of her thinking processes.

Miss Ford made a housing waiting-list application, supported by an occupational therapist’s report that Anna’s mobility was likely to deteriorate and she would need a ground-floor bedroom and bathroom.

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The family were placed in the band A category for highest-priority housing.

In July 2010, a three-bedroom property with a ground floor parlour became available and Miss Ford made an application for it.

The council said the house was unsuitable because if the parlour was used as a bedroom, it would have meant the family receiving a home with four bedrooms when they only needed three.

If Anna had not had a disability, Miss Ford’s family would have been rehoused, the ombudsman report said.

It suggested that the council had violated the Disability Discrimination Act and had a badly-worded allocation policy which was unclear on whether parlours can be used as bedrooms.

The report said it would be for a court to decide whether there had been a breach of the Human Rights Act.

Dr Martin said: “I consider Miss Ford and her family have been caused substantial injustice as a result of the council’s decision not to offer them the property for which they were the highest placed bidders.”

She recommended that the council offer the family suitable accommodation, pay �4,000 them in compensation, pay for an extra week of respite care for Anna and review the wording of its lettings policy.