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BREAKING: East Devon confirmed by Housing Ombudsman as “worst performing authority in the country”

  • by JW

The District Council is named as having “excessively high” maladministration failures.

“The physical condition of homes was the biggest reason for referrals to the watchdog.”

“Any finding of maladministration by the ombudsman is something that we need to learn from”.


The District Council’s Local Plan is out for consultation – and the key issue is housing: 

East Devon Local Plan consultation road show – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And the issues are indeed myriad:

Knowle: a failure of promises on affordable housing – Vision Group for Sidmouth

How should we be using our land? – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Housing: of mould and affordability, of quotas and supply – Vision Group for Sidmouth

A piece by a District Council councillor in the latest Herald talks about the ‘desperate need’ for more housing:

“There’s a huge need for more affordable housing across the district. The current waiting list has over 4700 individuals and families on it. To put that into context, EDDC only has around 4300 properties and this is decreasing year on year due to the Right to Buy (RTB)…”

The ‘desperate’ need for more affordable homes in East Devon | Exmouth Journal

However, a report just out from the Ombudsman indicates that the District Council is not performing well as a landlord:

The Housing Ombudsman has named five landlords with “excessively high” maladministration failures… The ombudsman said the findings from its annual complaints performance review were “deeply concerning”, and that it had written to a total of 32 landlords where it found maladministration in at least 50% of its decisions. It is the first time the ombudsman has named and written to landlords with high maladministration rates. The five worst-performing landlords are: Golding Homes, where maladministration was found in 90% of complaints, East Devon District Council (89%); Lambeth & Southwark Housing Association (86%), Bolton at Home (80%) and Hexagon Housing Association (78%). The number of complaints upheld against these providers was well above the overall rate of 48%, the ombudsman said.

Inside Housing – News – Ombudsman names five landlords with high maladministration rates

This has also been reported by the Guardian today:

The social landlords in England with the worst records of maladministration have been named by the housing ombudsman, who said failures were “deeply concerning” and that poor performance was “still at unacceptably high levels”. 

Richard Blakeway, the ombudsman for England’s 4.4m social homes, concluded there was maladministration in 90% of the complaints cases brought to it by tenants of Golding Homes, which provides housing for more than 21,000 people across Kent, including in the case of a resident who complained for seven years about problems including damp and cold. 

He said 86% of complaints considered about Lambeth and Southwark Housing Association in London were judged to amount to maladministration, and 89% of complaints about East Devon district council. The figures relate to the period from April 2021 to March 2022.

The physical condition of homes was the biggest reason for referrals to the watchdog over that period, and in more than half of cases it concluded there had been service failures by the landlord. The named landlords have been approached for comment.

Watchdog names social landlords in England with worst complaints records | Social housing | The Guardian

Here is that comment from the District Council, published today as a press release:

The total number of Housing Ombudsman complaints for the period 2021/22 was five and in four of those cases we let our tenants down – details of which can be openly found on EDDC’s website – having been reported to our Cabinet. We accept the Ombudsman’s findings and continue to take a learning approach to all outcomes. We recognise where the areas of improvement are for us, two key areas being improved communication with residents as well as improved record keeping. Both issues have been impacted by high levels of vacancies we have experienced in the housing team. We are reassured to note that the vast majority of housing complaints received (97%) during 2021/22 were resolved locally, indicating that our internal complaint procedure is working effectively in providing resolution and remedy for our residents at the earliest possible stage. That said, any finding of maladministration by the ombudsman is something that we need to learn from”.

13 December 2022 – East Devon District Council response to Housing Ombudsman report – East Devon

However, the reality is that East Devon District Council have been officially confirmed by the Housing Ombudsman as the worst performing authority in the country.