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Cambridge City Council offers up to £1,000 remedy after admitting to falsely advertising property

A council tenant has been offered up to £1,000 to help create a car parking space after Cambridge City Council admitted to falsely advertising a property.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman upheld a complaint against the city council after it incorrectly said a council home had off-street parking.

Cambridge City Council, The Guildhall, Market Square, Cambridge
Cambridge City Council, The Guildhall, Market Square, Cambridge

The tenant, referred to only as Mrs F, told the ombudsman she had experienced distress and costs as a result of dealing with the council over the issue.

The council said it has apologised to the tenant, and is working to “find a suitable solution to her housing situation”, including offering up to £1,000 towards installing a dropped curb, or finding her another property with off-street parking.

Mrs F complained after moving into a council home advertised as having off-street car parking, when it did not.

She and her family were on the housing register and had been regularly bidding for properties advertised through the authority’s scheme.

Mrs F explained that she would normally bid for properties with off-street car parking. She said her car, which was needed for work, was electric and needed space for a charging point.

She bid on the property in question in autumn 2022, but when she was offered a viewing found it did not have the parking space advertised.

After she raised it, a council officer confirmed the advertisement was incorrect and said the council would not install any off-street parking.

Mrs F claimed she had not been told or advised whether she could withdraw from the offer and claimed the officer had been “rude and unapologetic”.

She told the ombudsman that she was “afraid” to refuse the offer in case this reduced her priority band or stopped her from being able to bid for properties, and therefore accepted the property and moved in.

The council initially disputed Mrs F’s claim that she had not been told whether she could withdraw from the offer.

But it later told the ombudsman that it did not have a recording of the call between Mrs F and the officer and said the officer was also absent. The council therefore could not confirm what happened and admitted it may have been at fault.

The council apologised to Mrs F and proposed to either make a 50 per cent contribution towards the installation of a dropped kerb, up to a maximum of £1,000, and to prioritise a tenant alteration request; or to offer a direct let of a like for like property with off-street parking and to make a £500 contribution toward any costs incurred.

The ombudsman said the offer was suitable.

A council spokesperson said: “We welcome the ombudsman’s report and have apologised to the tenant for the unsatisfactory service she received.

“We have been working with her to meet the recommendations in the ombudsman’s report, to find a suitable solution to her housing situation and to meet her specific needs.

“We know we don’t always get everything right, so it is important that we understand what went wrong in this case in order to learn from it and we are reviewing our procedures and putting in place improvements to try and prevent similar instances occurring in the future.”

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