Man killed himself after 'dismissive' landlord failed to resolve 18 noise complaints

 (Iz zy / Unsplash)
(Iz zy / Unsplash)

A man living in a ground floor flat in London killed himself after his "dismissive" landlord ignored at least 18 noise complaints he made about his upstairs neighbours, a report has found.

Clarion, the UK’s largest housing association, gave a "confusing and contradictory" service to the man and "ignored" his request for help in making a rehousing application, a Housing Ombudsman report on the case said.

He repeatedly told Clarion that he suffered from anxiety and depression and he was not eating or sleeping,

The noise was so disruptive at night that the man would sleep on an air bed in his kitchen to get away from it, the report said.

The tenant reported hearing stamping, banging, loud music and hammering and made at least 18 complaints between January 6 and May 7, 2021, all relating to the flat above.

He attempted to take his life and a nurse notified Clarion about the suicide attempt on February 4.

"This email from a medical professional detailed that the resident reported the attempt was due to the impact of the noise from his neighbour upstairs was having on him," the Housing Ombudsman report said.

On February 9 Clarion phoned the resident following his discharge from hospital and carpet was eventually fitted to the property above for soundproofing.

But this made little difference to the noise levels, the resident said, according to the report.

The Housing Ombudsman said: "Whilst the landlord initially arranged for underlay and carpet to be fitted in the property above as a means of minimising the sound transference, it’s subsequent interactions with the resident were confusing and contradictory and, in some respects, dismissive."

Clarion closed the case on September 11, 2021. The man died on September 22.

The Housing Ombudsman found Clarion's handling of the complaints led to maladministration.

It concluded: "The information provided by the landlord was often confusing and contradictory and it was not made clear to the resident how the issue would be resolved.

"The resident repeatedly expressed to the landlord that his mental health was suffering as a result of the noise and his request for the landlord to support him to make a rehousing application was ignored.

"Given the resident’s known vulnerabilities and concerns highlighted by medical professionals and the landlord’s own staff regarding the resident’s mental wellbeing.

"This Service finds maladministration in the landlord’s handling of the residents reports of noise nuisance.

Clarion has since apoloigised to the man's family.

The housing association said in a statemet: "We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and an unreserved apology for all shortcomings in the service we provided the resident.

"We recognise that our communication process should have been far better and we accept the recommendations of the Ombudsman with humility.

"The case and actions taken have been reviewed by the senior management team, and our chief customer officer has personally written to the family.

"We continue to make improvements to how we record and act on vulnerability of our residents and we have reviewed our automated letters process to ensure an appropriate response is issued in line with our vulnerability support policy.

"As part of our learning from this case, and in response to the recommendations in the Ombudsman’s report published in October 2022, ‘Spotlight on noise complaints: time to be heard’ we have reviewed our approach and produced an action plan to enhance our procedures so that building noise cases of this kind are separated from anti-social behaviour issues. These changes have been rolled out across Clarion."

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