Advice on arbitration

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Beth Wednesday 13 February 2013 12.14pm
Does anybody have expereince of going through arbitration with Southwark Council? I'm contemplating using it for a housing repair issue, but wondering if going to a solicitor might be more effective. I have the arbitration pack, but it is not very informative - it would be great to hear from somebody who has actually been through it themself.
Gavin Smith Wednesday 13 February 2013 12.54pm
Go for the solicitor; it's got more bite to it and the council is more likely to engage and act instead of procrastinating. I'd be interested to know if anyone has experience of arbitration too. Who pays the costs of the arbitration?
Kory Wednesday 13 February 2013 12.59pm
I would go to Citz Advice and get a list of Solicitors that deals with Social Housing Issues . I had very good experiences with Miles and Partners but there are many. It takes a bit of staying power as alot won't see you because their case load is full.
It may also help- if appropiate to get a report from enviromental health - you can report those issues seperatly to SC or get in a Independent Surveyors report- to back up your case before you start . I am sure you have but take photos at every stage of disrepair/repair. And send everything to parties by special delivery safeguarding for a plethora of Southwark based issues.
Zoe Wednesday 13 February 2013 1.04pm
Southwark's Arbitration service is free to use, you don't need to go see a lawyer. You represent yourself and someone from the Council puts their side and the panel makes a decision based on what's been discussed.

You could ring the council and ask to be put through, to speak to someone. I have the telephone number somewhere as I got a form for a neighbour, will see if I can find it and send to you.
londonbridge69 Wednesday 13 February 2013 1.54pm
Hello Beth

Not sure if this helps but my understanding is that you should ( if it is a social housing repairs issue and not a private housing issue)
:(i) contact housing dept and ideally get a written response to your repairs query indicating how they intend to deal with it. ( or not as you suggest!) Social housing landlords obviously prioritise repairs in terms of urgency/essential maintenance/ non urgent etc .
(ii) If you are not happy with the response ask them to formally review the decision / or alternatively go to Southwark Arbitration Service ( which appears to be relatively straightforward ( inasmuch as any of these things are.. sorry I have no experience of them)

(iii) If you are still not satisfied, start the formal Southwark 3 stage complaints procedure.

http://www.southwark.gov.uk/info/200025/comments_and_complaints/1958/corporate_complaints

The reason I suggest particularly that you start the formal procedure is because courts are often reticent to act and indeed I believe unable to act unless you have gone through the formally recognised complaints procedure (in this case housing complaints)

A lawyer will be able to give you information about legal remedies.. but hopefully it is something that can be sorted out before that stage.

Hope at least some of this helps and best of luck
Adrian
Beth Wednesday 13 February 2013 2.18pm
Thanks so much for your help everybody - this forum is great! It's a bit tricky as I am a private leaseholder but the damage is coming from the council flat above me or possibly from damage to the block - it's taken over 4 years so far and there is still no sign of the cause of the problem being resolved. As a private tenant I can't go the Govt Ombudsman, and arbitration only seems to offer compensation for sums paid out (for which you need receipts). In my case the main financial loss is to the original electrical supply to my kitchen and bathroom (which now beyond repair) and I believe has resulted in loss of value to my property - plus all the appointments (missed and otherwise unsatisfactory) over the years, no lights for months on end plus the general hassle and stress of having the bathroom dried out and redeorated 3 times. I'd love to think I could make a difference to the abominable service itself but I'm not exactly full of confidence. SC never even responded to my Stage 2 complaint! I will call the arbitration service first and see how that goes ... Thanks again everybody.
Jan the old one Wednesday 13 February 2013 2.41pm
Crikey Beth, you have your hands full, is any one else affected who could re-inforce your complaint? If my memory serves me right the environmental health dept., will not take action against it's self so to speak. Lets hope all the good advice you have received on here helps you solve this long standing problem..
londonbridge69 Wednesday 13 February 2013 2.54pm
Beth

Would really be interested to know :
(i) who owns the freehold of the building? ( is it the council?)
(ii) have you had any surveys done indicating the origin of the water ingress?
(iii) was your stage 2 complaint to the corporate complaints unit at Southwark?
southwark council wrote:
Your complaint will be acknowledged within three working days and the team has up to 20 working days to respond to you. In some cases this may take longer and if so you will be informed via post if there are any delays in investigating your complaint.

Good luck with the arbitration service.
Adrian
Beth Wednesday 13 February 2013 3.45pm
Hi Adrian
Sure:
(i) Southwark Council are the freeholder
(ii) a number of tradespeople and Technical Officers have come round to inspect and come up with various theories, and even fixed a pipe once, but the leak is still happening (intermittently)
(iii) Yes, Stage 2 Complaint was made to SC corporate complaints - I kept getting messages bouncing the date where I would be contacted and I gave up in the end as I thought the leak was finally being fixed (some 2 years ago now)
londonbridge69 Wednesday 13 February 2013 5.02pm
Hi Beth

My understanding is that the freeholder ( in this case Southwark Council ) has an obligation to provide insurance against normal comprehensive risks and that you would need to go about claiming for your loss against that insurance. Whilst your social housing neighbour may becausing there to be repeated leaks, it is the responsibility of the insurance company to pursue, if they so wish who they think is responsible. ( in other words, let the insurance company pursue the neighbour or the council depending on who they think is responsible) This I would argue is the basis for a claim using the arbitration service,/ not sure if youre stage 2 complaint will have lapsed by now
Hope this helps
adrian


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