Housing group failed mentally-ill tenant

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A tenant with mental health problems was left living in her water-damaged SBHA home for almost three months, a report has revealed.

The woman, referred to only as Mrs A, had damp and mouldy carpets, plus damaged goods and decoration, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman stated.

A complaint from her mental health support officer was upheld by the ombudsman, who told Selkirk-based SBHA (Scottish Borders Housing Association) to apologise.

The report said SBHA offered to temporarily rehouse Mrs A, but this was declined due to her mental health problems. The association provided dehumidifiers, but only offered to pay running costs after the support officer raised the matter.

The ombudsman ruled SBHA had also held off sending an insurance claim, which meant replacement goods and redecoration were delayed.

The ombudsman stated: “In terms of the association helping redecorate Ms A’s property, we were unable to say with certainty that no offer to redecorate was made.

“We accepted that it would not have been reasonable for them to redecorate Ms A’s property until liability had been determined, but the delay in the association concluding their internal investigation meant that it took more than two and a half months for them to decide that they were in a position to make any offer to redecorate.

“The evidence showed that the association unreasonably delayed in forwarding the claim to their insurers and failed to follow their own procedures when investigating the claim.”

The report also found that issues raised by the support worker were not dealt with appropriately.

An SBHA spokeswoman said: “We have apologised unreservedly to our tenant – learning vital lessons and revising our procedures in the process.

“While we regret the investigation and insurance claim was not concluded earlier we note that compensation was accepted in this case.

“As a direct result, we have reviewed fully with our staff how we can better support tenants whose home is damaged and want to remain in the property while repair work is being carried out.”

She added: “We take all complaints seriously and set out to resolve things quickly. We also apologise, learn lessons and use the experience to improve what we do.”