Complaint upheld against BHA

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A complaint against Berwickshire Housing Association was partially upheld by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

The complaint was made by a tenant who gave notice to the housing association that she was giving up her tenancy. She was issued with an end of tenancy letter detailing her responsibilites and after a pre-end of tenancy inspection BHA sent her another letter identifiying rechargeable repairs: redecoration, plaster repairs and empyting wheelie bins at the property.

Mrs C complained that the charges should not have been applied and her understanding of the tenants’ handbook was that estimates should have been issued prior to any work done.

After investigating, the ombudsman rejected her complaint about redecoration and plaster work charges but upheld her complaint about charges for emptying wheelie bins as “we found no evidence that it had been made clear that outgoing tenants were unable to leave rubbish in the wheelie bins”.

The investigation revealed it was not BHA policy to issue estimates prior to the work but BHA acknowledged that their tenants’ handbook does imply that this would happen.

The ombudsman recommended that the housing association: remove the charge for emptying wheelie bins from Mrs C’s account; review relevant policies and guidance and make any necessary amendments to clarify tenants’ responsibilities in terms of emptying wheelie bins at termination; review the tenants’ handbook and other tenant information to ensure it accurately reflects policy on estimates; issue Mrs C with a written apology for the failure to address all her concerns in their response to her; and consider reviewing the wording of compensation offers.