Ealing Council Found Guilty of Maladministration

Failures in complaints procedure over Acton HMO

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Ealing Council has been found guilty of maladministration by the Local Government Ombudsman ( LGO) and ordered to pay compensation.

perceval House

It follows complaints made over the last 30 years by neighbours of a Housing in Multiple Occupation (HMO) property on the Uxbridge Road in Acton, previously known as the Royal Crimea Guest House.

At one stage the converted house became a hostel for Somali refugees and the Council itself was landlord.

Neighbours say conditions were appalling with much overcrowding, and other health and safety issues and were contacted by residents living in the hostel who asked them to seek help.

When ownership changed and the situation didn't improve, complaints were made that the Council should never have granted the landlord a renewed licence to manage the property.

This went ahead despite the HMO being slapped with an official Management order from the Council to make urgent health and safety remedial action. In May last year the neighbours made an official complaint to the Ombudsman.

After investigating the Ombudsman found the Council to be at fault and said: ''the Council failed to take into account relevant information before granting an HMO license, although that would not have altered the outcome. The Council failed to respond to residents’ queries or put a complaint about that through its complaints procedure. An apology, a response to those queries, reminder to officers and payment of £250 is satisfactory remedy for the injustice caused.

One of the complainants, Vincent Wrigley, said, ''It is bad enough when the LGO has to rebuke Ealing Council for failing to follow its own internal complaints procedures but it is made 10 times worse when the failure centres upon poor housing and vulnerable residents and then by a council treating the LGO’s findings with cynical indifference. Council-tax payers have the right to expect integrity in the dealings they have with council officers. Ealing not only let me and my fellow complainants down, it also disgraced itself in the shabby way it responded to the LGO’s findings and instructions.''

A council spokesperson said: “We have accepted the ombudsman ruling, we have apologised and made a payment of £250. We have reminded officers of what is expected when dealing with complaints and are going to be reviewing our process of how we respond to them in the future.”

31 July 2018 (updated 3/08)


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