Compensation procedure

Part of the Trust’s Customer Care Framework Level 2 policy approval - Implementation date 1 April 2017

1. Purpose

1.1 This procedure provides information on the circumstances under which compensation will and will not be considered. The procedure will provide information on how a claim for compensation may be made, how the claim will be processed and the likely timescales involved.

1.2 The procedure will provide information on the approved standardised settlement amounts, the formulas used for calculating compensation, the prevailing circumstances which must be present before compensation can be considered and what to do if an offer is disputed.

2. Legislation and Trust Policy

2.1 The HCA’s Regulatory Framework makes it a requirement that customers, housing applicants and others have ready access to an effective complaints and compensation policy, administered effectively. The Housing Ombudsman Service also shares this expectation.

2.2 Legislation relevant to this policy and supporting procedure:

  • Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and 1995

  • (Housing Corporation) Circular 33/94 – Right to Repair and Right to Compensation for Improvements

  • Housing and Regeneration Act 2008

  • Leasehold reform, Housing and Urban development Act 1993.

2.3 Trust policies relevant to this policy and supporting procedure:

  • Complaints Policy

  • Repairs and Maintenance policy

  • Decant Policy

  • Equality and Diversity Policy

3. Statement of Intent

3.1 The Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust aims to provide the highest standards of service at all times to all of our residents and customers. However, the Trust recognises that there may be times when residents or customers may suffer some disadvantage or loss as a result of its actions, errors or mistakes and that in some instances compensation may be the most appropriate form of remedy.

3.2 Each claim for compensation will be considered on an individual basis, taking into account all relevant known facts. We will adopt an evidence based approach and will generally not make any compensatory awards based “on the balance of probability” or where a case is reliant solely upon un-substantiated verbal statements. 

3.3 Any investigation will be carried out objectively and without prejudice and to the best of the Trust’s investigating officer’s ability and within their remit and professional boundaries (it should be remembered that the extent of our investigatory power is limited and our remit is not as broad as that of professional loss adjustors).

3.4 All offers of compensation are made “without prejudice” which means that the offer of compensation cannot be relied upon as proof of liability. If an offer of compensation is accepted, then payment is made in “full and final settlement” of the claim for compensation against the Trust.

3.5 Any damage to the structure of the property will be referred to our insurers. Any personal injury accident claims or disrepair claims will be forwarded to our insurers or legal representatives as appropriate.

4. Circumstances in which Compensation may be Paid.

4.1 Statutory Obligations

4.1.1 Right to Repair (see Appendix 1)

The Right to Repair scheme gives tenants the right to claim compensation if certain small urgent repairs are not carried out within prescribed limits. This right is granted to secure tenants of local housing authorities under the Housing Act 1985, as amended by the Leasehold reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 and has been adopted by the Trust and incorporated into current tenancy agreements.

4.1.2 Home Loss Payment

A home loss payment is made in recognition of the upheaval caused by a move and the permanent loss of a home. Home loss is a fixed, one off statutory payment as set out in the Land Compensation Act 1973 (refer to Decant Policy)

4.1.3 Disturbance Payments

Disturbance payments are designed to cover the actual costs and reasonable expenses that arise when a tenant is required to move either permanently, or temporarily as a result of demolition, redevelopment, major repairs or improvements to their home (refer to Decant Policy)

4.1.4 Right to Payment for Improvements (see Appendix 2)

If a tenancy is ending and the tenant completed improvements to the property after 1 April 1994 they may be entitled to compensation for those improvements. This does not apply to fixed-term tenancies. 

4.2 Discretionary Payments

4.2.1 Compensation for Loss or Damage

The Trust will only consider paying compensation where damage has been caused by the direct action or inaction of the Trust (subject to prior knowledge). In instances where damage to property and belongings has occurred because of resident “lifestyle choices” e.g. condensation and mould build-up as a result of not heating or venting the property adequately, then the Trust will not compensate. Whenever a claim for loss or damage is received, the Trust will generally wish to inspect the items that have been claimed as damaged. If the damaged items are not kept for inspection or access to the property is refused then compensation may be refused. In some circumstances, it may be appropriate to submit photographic evidence to support a claim. Claimants should not repair, clean or replace any items on the expectation that they will receive reimbursement from the Trust without prior written agreement. The Trust does not operate a new for old policy. Compensation will be based on the original cost of the items and depreciated over the life of the item. Wherever possible claims should be supported by receipts or invoices and in instances where information has not been provided by the claimant e.g. estimated lifespan, then the Trust will carry out its own research and apply its findings as part of any depreciation calculations. In the case of damage caused to decorations, the Trust will only undertake to compensate the resident for the area of decoration damaged i.e. the whole room will not be redecorated. Residents do not have an automatic right to monetary compensation even where it is clear mistakes have been made. In some circumstances a more practical solution may provide all or part of a remedy e.g. dry cleaning or professional repair. Wherever possible the Trust will seek to ensure that any claimant is returned to the position that they were in before the incident occurring that gave rise to the claim.

Qualifying Criteria:

  • can be claimed if caused by direct action or inaction of the Trust (subject to prior knowledge)

  • claim made within 28 days

  • damaged property or items available for inspection

  • receipts or invoices are provided. 

Depreciation Formula: Cost or estimated cost of item ÷ estimated lifespan = yearly depreciation. Yearly depreciation x age of item = value to be deducted from cost or estimated cost

4.2.2 Compensation for Loss of Facilities

Where a resident has lost the use of a room within the home as a result of repairs or improvements which are the responsibility of the Trust, compensation may be payable. If a room is not habitable and cannot be used, the Trust will pay compensation after a period of 1 week continued loss. The amount of compensation payable will be the equivalent to a percentage reduction on the gross rent charged for each full week the room is unusable. The maximum reduction for rooms will be 40% of the gross rent regardless of how many rooms are lost to use.

Compensation for loss of facility
Room % Reduction
Kitchen 25
Bathroom 25
Living room 10
Bedroom 20 each

4.2.3 Failure to Attend an Appointment

If a Trust employee fails to keep an appointment, the Trust may compensate providing there is evidence that the appointment was made and that it was broken on the day without prior notification and that there was no attempt made to re-arrange within a reasonable timeframe. This compensation element will not be applicable in extreme circumstances such as in a disaster recovery scenario or service is affected by extreme weather conditions. In such cases where a further appointment has been scheduled, a one-off payment of £25.00 can be claimed. This payment is a set amount which has been based on comparisons with other housing providers and utility companies. This payment is also offered as compensation for any additional time that the resident may have to take off of work and any subsequent loss of earnings. Compensation cannot be claimed for the original missed appointment as technically, no loss would have been incurred.

Qualifying Criteria:

  • an appointment was pre-arranged and broken on the day without the resident being notified.

  • extreme conditions are not present

Payment amount: £25.00 (Covers any time-off taken and loss of earnings for the re-arranged appointment)

4.2.4 Compensation for Loss of Heating or Hot Water / Additional Fuel Costs

In instances where there has been a boiler or heating failure and the system is unable to be repaired or replaced following the visit of the heating engineer, alternative temporary heating will be left with resident e.g. electric fan heating. Additional fuel costs equating to £5.00 per full 24hr period following the first 24hr period after a report of heat loss has been made can be claimed. This amount is regardless of how many heaters may be being used. This amount will be payable up until the date the heating system is repaired provided that the loss is continuous. This calculation will also apply in other circumstances where the resident’s electricity is being used e.g. use of a dehumidifier. If any loss of amenity is the result of a problem beyond the Trust’s control for example a localised or national power-cut, blocked street sewers or works being undertaken by utility companies, then no compensation will be payable.

Qualifying Criteria: can be claimed for every full 24hr period following the first 24hrs after report of failure made or following deployment of dehumidifier or other unit

Payment amount: £5.00 per full 24hr period until system repaired regardless of number of heaters or other units deployed

4.2.5 Compensation for service failure Where a resident claims that they have received a standard of service or standard of customer care that is below published service levels or which could have reasonably been expected, the Trust may make an offer of compensation. Any such claims should be made as part of a formal complaint and any compensatory awards will be made at the Trust’s absolute discretion having first established that the complainant / claimant has suffered significant adverse affect. The complaint investigating officer will take into consideration the following factors:

  • The levels of inconvenience, distress or anxiety caused by the service failure

  • Whether there were any specific financial losses incurred

  • Whether the complainant / claimant has had to live in poor conditions for longer than is reasonable due to the Trust’s service failure

  • How many people have been affected by the service failure

  • Has the complainant / claimant contributed in any way to the service failure In these cases of discretionary ex-gratia award, a “one size fits all” approach cannot be applied. The overriding principle applied in such cases is to put the person back in the position they would have been before the affects of the service failure or if that is not possible, that any award made is fair and proportionate taking account of the circumstances.

4.2.6 Land Development Compensation There may be occasions when the Trust wishes to develop a new site but is dependant on a resident giving up some of his / her garden to enable the development to go ahead. Under these circumstances it may be appropriate to offer the resident some form of compensation for any garden features that may be lost. Each case will be assessed individually.

4.2.7 Personal Injury Accident Claim A personal injury claim is a claim where an injury has occurred to the body, mind or emotions (as opposed to damage to property and belongings) but where it is claimed that such injury has been caused through the negligence of the Trust. Any such claims made against the Trust will be dealt with by the Trust’s insurers and will not be dealt with or settled by the Trust under its compensation or complaints policy and procedure. To assist anyone wishing to make such a claim, the Trust would advise that they first access the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) website www.adviceguide.org Law and rights section where detailed information can be found on how to pursue such a claim. Alternatively to find the nearest CAB look in the phone book. Any queries regarding such claims or requests for information regarding the Trust’s Insurance details should be directed for the attention of the Finance Administrator, Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust, Fairfax House, 69 Buckingham Street, Aylesbury, HP20 2NJ. Tel: 01296 732600

5. Claims Process

5.1 A claim for compensation must be made within 28 days of any situation giving rise to the claim. Preferably any claim should be made in writing using the Trust’s compensation claim form (at the very least the Trust will seek a claimant’s signature as they are making a declaration as to the validity of the information they are providing). Claim forms can be requested by phone, personal visit or can be downloaded from the Trust’s website www.vaht.co.uk.

5.2 Each Trust service area is responsible for considering compensation claims that fall within their area of responsibility and for determining any awards that may be made. Completed compensation claim forms should be returned for the attention of the Manager of the service against which the resident is claiming. If the claim is part of a formal complaint then this should be sent to the Business Improvement Team at the Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust. 

5.3 In low-level and “straight-forward” cases where adequate evidence exists or appropriate receipts have been submitted accompanied by a completed signed claim form, settlement may be made on the strength of this without any further need for correspondence or investigation.

5.4 In cases where damage to property or belongings is being claimed or generally where the claim is more complex, a designated officer will be appointed to liaise with the claimant. Ordinarily this will be the relevant Service Manager who may also have been allocated any accompanying complaint to investigate.

5.5 The Service Manager will decide if they wish to take the opportunity to visit the property to inspect the extent of claimed damage or inspect the damaged belongings. The Service Manager will liaise directly with the claimant regarding this and any such inspection should be carried out within 10 working days following receipt and acknowledgement of the claim /complaint.

5.6 Once all appropriate evidence and information has been collected, the Service Manager will decide whether compensation is payable and what form this should take.

5.7 The Trust will contact the claimant, normally within 10 working days from the date of the claim / complaint or from the date of any inspection (should this not have been carried out within specified deadlines), either making a without prejudice offer of compensation or in low-level cases sending the settlement or informing that settlement will be made.

5.8 Once a compensation offer has been accepted or determined, the Trust will arrange for any payment to be made generally having first ensured that any monies that might be owing to the Trust by the claimant have been deducted and that any such deductions are credited to the claimant’s rent or service charge account.

5.9 Payment will normally be made up to 28 days following acceptance of the settlement figure and will be made either by a money transfer to the claimant’s bank account or if the claimant does not have a bank account, via cheque.

5.10 Any appeals against the amount of compensation offered must be made within 20 days of the offer date. In the case of the offer being in response to a formal complaint, the claimant / complainant must seek to escalate their complaint to Stage 2 or 3 of the Complaints process – refer to Complaints policy and process.

5.11 Upon receipt of an appeal, the appeal will be passed to the next most senior member of staff within the service area to review how the compensation offer was calculated and to determine if the offer was fair, reasonable and proportionate to the circumstances of the claim. In the case of a complaint this may be escalated at Stage 2 to the relevant Head of Service or at Stage 3 to a Complaints Panel. 

5.12 Following an appeal a claimant / complainant may either accept or reject any revised offer that may have been made. If no revised offer has been made or the offer is unacceptable, then the claimant / complainant will either seek to escalate their complaint (if not already exhausted the complaint process) or they must seek independent advice or support.

5.13 The Trust reserves the right to refuse to process any appeals made solely on the basis that the claimant feels that the fixed payable compensation amounts outlined in this policy are insufficient or where there is no new information or evidence produced to support a claim other than previously presented.

6. Equality and Diversity

6.1 All compensation claimants will be treated fairly, equally and with respect regardless of their gender, race, age, disability, faith, marital status, sexual orientation or any other distinction.

6.2 In instances where a claimant is unable to put their claim in writing, they may do so via the telephone and a Trust employee will record the details for them on a compensation claim form. The form will then be sent to the claimant so that the declaration that the claim is genuine can be signed and then returned for processing.

6.3 If a claimant wishes to receive information in a different format e.g. large print or on audio tape or requires information in an alternative language or requires the services of a translator, this can be facilitated upon request.

6.4 An equality impact assessment has been undertaken of the compensation policy and procedure.

7. Consultation

7.1 This procedure has been subjected to review by Service Managers, Heads of Service and the Executive Management Team.

7.2 The Resident Forum has also been consulted on the Compensation policy and this supporting procedure.

7.3 This procedure will be reviewed in line with any review of the Compensation policy.

Procedure author details
Author Andy Padmore
Job title Business Improvement Manager
Email andy.padmore@vaht.co.uk
Phone 01296 732635