Hillcrest to review supported housing ASB policy following SPSO report
Hillcrest Housing Association has vowed to “quickly resolve” any outstanding issues after the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) found that there was no anti-social behaviour policy in place for the association’s supported accommodation.
The ombudsman investigated the housing association following a complaint by ‘Mr C’, who was a resident in Hillcrest’s supported accommodation for around six months.
In an SPSO report into the investigation, Mr C said that he experienced ongoing anti-social behaviour from one of his neighbours which he felt the association did not take appropriate action against. Mr C was eventually served with a final warning by the association for threats that he made against his neighbour and for allegedly kicking in the neighbour’s door.
Following this, Mr C advised that his relationship with the association staff “deteriorated” and he was eventually issued with notice to leave his accommodation on the grounds that he was refusing support and this was an essential aspect of the tenancy.
On investigation, the SPSO found that there was “some confusion” among staff about whether or not the association’s general anti-social behaviour procedure applied to supported accommodation. At the time of the complaint, support staff were of the opinion that this procedure applied but association staff considered that no set procedure was in place. Following the ombudsman’s enquiries, the association confirmed that no procedure was in place for anti-social behaviour in supported accommodation.
SPSO said it considered this to be “unreasonable” and also that Hillcrest’s records “did not sufficiently evidence thorough communication of their findings” in each instance of anti-social behaviour.
On reviewing the final warning that had been served to Mr C, the SPSO found that there were a “number of errors” in communication which had reduced Mr C’s understanding of the reasons for which the warning had been served. It also found that the association had “incorrectly advised” that the police had corroborated the incidents leading to the warning.
Errors were also found in the notice of termination served on Mr C, asking him to leave the accommodation.
As a result of this, all of Mr C’s complaints were upheld by the ombudsman.
The SPSO recommended that Hillcrest reviews its anti-social behaviour procedures for the supported accommodation and consider implementing a standard letter template for formal warnings to guide staff and help ensure that clear, well-evidenced reasons are communicated to occupants when warnings are served.
Fiona Morrison, deputy chief executive of Hillcrest Housing Association, told Scottish Housing News: “Hillcrest has, following the receipt of the report, met with the SPSO to discuss the findings. We have taken on board the points raised and put in place an action plan to resolve any outstanding issues quickly.”