Leeds council tenant wins payout after investigator finds flaws in housing process

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A LEEDS council tenant has won a £2,000 payout from the authority after an Ombudsman ruled his housing needs were not properly evaluated, and he was not treated appropriately considering his vulnerable health.

Andrew Matthews, known in official papers as ‘Mr B’, had complained that the council had unfairly applied a reduced preference to him when he asked to be moved and bid for properties, despite claims he was experiencing severe harassment and had very specific physical and mental health needs.

Mr Matthews, from Otley, suffers from a variety of health problems, including obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). His OCD had led him to a series of clashes with council staff, which ultimately led to him being banned from all council buildings and being issued with an ASBO. He was also temporarily removed from the housing register. The council is allowed to do this under the Housing Act if a person’s behaviour has been seen to affect their suitability as a tenant. However Mr Matthews appealed that decision and won.

The Ombudsman found that Mr Matthews had “missed out on seven properties the council could have offered him” during the period that he was struck off. He also concluded the treatment of Mr Matthews was “not appropriate given his vulnerabilities” although Mr Matthews’ own aggressive behaviour could not be condoned. However Mr Matthews was left “living in difficult circumstances for longer than necessary”.

The Ombudsman said in summary: “I have found fault with the council’s cancellation of Mr B’s housing registration. I have also found its reduced preference policy lacks detailed procedures and flexibility.”

A Leeds city council spokesperson said: “The council assesses each housing application on its own merits and tries to support vulnerable people, while taking enforcement action against anti-social behaviour and other unacceptable conduct. The council has fully cooperated with the enquiries of the Local Government Ombudsman and will seek to implement its findings.”

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

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