Haringey Council has paid £4,500 in compensation after a homeless woman and her young child spent nearly two years in accommodation without basic bathing facilities.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found the mum, who was left with ongoing health issues following a serious accident, suffered a “significant injustice” as a result of the council’s failings.

Haringey Council has accepted the ombudsman’s findings and apologised for its “poor standard of service”.

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The ombudsman’s report reveals that after the council provided temporary accommodation to the mum, who is referred to only as Ms X, in February 2020, she said the bath in the property was in such a poor condition that it was not safe for her or her young child to use.

In September that year, the council told her it had made an urgent request to transfer her to alternative accommodation. The same month, a serious accident left her with ongoing health issues, including back problems.

After she refused an offer of a new property in October, the council ended its housing duty to Ms X. But a review by the council in December found the property had been unsuitable. The following April, the council found her a private tenancy but later withdrew the offer because it was unaffordable.

Three months later, in July 2021, Ms X began experiencing issues with noise from an upstairs neighbour and made 35 reports of noise nuisance over the next twelve months.

After she complained to the council in December 2021, it accepted there were delays in carrying out repairs and that it should have done more to investigate the complaints of noise nuisance. In September this year, it identified alternative temporary accommodation for Ms X but had not made her an offer by the time the ombudsman’s report was written.

The ombudsman found that Ms X lived in a property where she could not access basic bathing facilities for herself and her child for more than 20 months because the council “failed to meet its statutory duty to Ms X” after its review in December 2020 found her housing was unsuitable.

The report also criticised the council for failing to carry out a medical assessment on Ms X until September 2021, a year after she suffered her accident. The ombudsman said this assessment – which found she needed a property on the ground floor or with a lift – should have taken place as part of its transfer decision to decide what sort of property Ms X needed.

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In response to the ombudsman’s findings, the council agreed to pay Ms X £4,200 for the time she spent in unsuitable temporary housing – £200 for each month. It said it would continue to pay out £200 until it made her a suitable offer.

In addition, the council agreed to pay her £300 for the “avoidable distress and time and trouble” caused by its handling of noise complaints and disrepair.

The council has also been told to improve its training after Ms X was initially referred to the wrong ombudsman service.

Dana Carlin, the council’s cabinet member for housing services, private renters and planning, said: “I am extremely disappointed that we failed in our ongoing duty to provide Ms X with suitable temporary accommodation. We left her in unacceptable circumstances for far too long, and I would like to apologise for this poor standard of service.

“I am also concerned that our complaints system failed to remedy our failings and that Ms X was forced to take her case to the ombudsman for a solution.

“We have accepted the ombudsman findings in full. Ms X has been provided with suitable temporary accommodation and paid compensation.

“Like other London boroughs, we have had difficulty in securing sufficient temporary accommodation. However, this does not mitigate against our duty to provide suitable accommodation to our homeless residents.

"Officers have been informed of the ombudsman findings and of the importance of ensuring we comply with our ongoing duty. In addition, we are redesigning our complaints process, to ensure that we pick up and resolve service failures at an early stage.”