National Ombudsmen
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Birmingham woman suffers years of antisocial behaviour because of admin errors by city council

A woman was forced to put up with a neighbour’s antisocial behaviour for more than two years because of failings by Birmingham City Council.

The woman, who owns her home, endured years of loud music, late night parties and aggressive and threatening behaviour from her neighbour after he moved into a housing association property next door.

The man had been served a noise abatement order in January 2009 seizing his sound equipment, while he was a tenant of the city council, but officers failed to attempt to evict him from the council property.

Between January and July that year, the council received further calls about the man’s behaviour.  The city’s Antisocial Behaviour Unit advised officers to send the man a letter warning he was in breach of his council tenancy and that the council would begin repossession proceedings.  This was never followed up, and no further action was taken.

Had officers pursued possession proceedings while he was a council tenant, they would have had grounds to withhold consent when the man applied for a mutual exchange with the housing association. And had the council also done proper background checks, officers would have discovered the man may not have been eligible for the exchange as his partner no longer lived in the property.

Shortly after the exchange, the housing association started to receive reports about the man’s behaviour.  It started repossession proceedings costing more than £15,000, and it is only now that the association is able to instruct bailiffs to enforce that repossession order.

Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman said:

“People should have the right to enjoy their homes in peace and quiet and through no fault of her own, this woman has been subjected to years of antisocial behaviour, causing her understandable distress.

“I find Birmingham City Council’s poor records management, lack of appropriate background checks and lack of action to take possession when they had the chance have been wholly responsible for this situation.

“I am pleased to note that the council has since changed the way it records information and has reviewed its antisocial behaviour procedures.”

To remedy the situation, Birmingham City Council has already apologised to the woman.  It has also agreed to offer the woman £1,500 to acknowledge the distress caused by its failures.


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