Westminster City council fined after woman forced to wait four-and-a-half years for a home

By Jacob Phillips, Local Democracy Reporter

A council has been fined £1,000 for taking four-and-a-half years to rehouse a resident.

Westminster City council closed a woman’s housing application in 2015 without her realising.

The woman, referred to only as Mrs X, did not find out the council had closed her case until March 2021, according to the housing ombudsman.

Mrs X was first seen as a high priority to the council when she applied for a home in 2015. Her son, Mr Y, had also made an application to move to a one-bedroom flat closer to his mum as he was her main carer.

Although Westminster City council offered Mr Y two flats, he turned them both down and, shortly afterwards, the council closed both applications.

When the ombudsman investigated, the council provided a copy of a handwritten note from 2015 telling Mrs X they had closed her housing application.

But the council agreed the letter it sent did not contain a proper right of review and did not explain the reason for closing her application.

Four-and-a-half years on, Mrs X made a new housing application, but again the council rejected it.

Summing up the case, the housing watchdog said:  “Mrs X complains the council has not dealt properly with her housing application. The council did not consider Mrs X’s housing applications properly. Mrs X suffered an avoidable four-and-a-half-year delay in being rehoused.

“The council said Mrs X will receive a direct offer of a suitable property as soon as possible. The council should also apologise to Mrs X and pay her £1,000 in respect of her missed opportunity.”

The council has now registered Mrs X for a direct offer of a two-bedroomed wheelchair-accessible property, and said it will offer her the next suitable property that becomes available.

The council is unable to say how long this will take.

Pictured top: Westminster City Hall in Victoria Street (Picture: Google Street View)

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