Tenancy rights and conditions
Upheld in whole or in part
Flintshire County Council
Mr X complained that he had asked the Council (as his landlord) for permission to erect a potting shed/greenhouse, art studio and fencing at his property. In his view, the Council had first agreed then refused him permission. Having erected the buildings, he was then threatened with enforcement action to remove them. He felt he was being discriminated against as other neighbours had sheds at their properties.
On considering the information provided by the Council, it showed that it was unaware of other neighbours having built sheds but, now that it was, it was considering enforcement action against them. It said what Mr X had erected contravened the size and location dimensions that might have been agreed initially (which it said had been explained to him in site visits). He had built structures beyond that. Moreover, fencing was prohibited around the land due to a legal restrictive covenant against enclosing it, as verified by its legal department.
The Ombudsman concluded that it was not for her to make findings of discrimination, albeit it did not appear Mr X was being treated differently from others. There were legal reasons why she could not find the Council’s actions to be unreasonable – there were different laws at play, and it was not within her jurisdiction to make legal findings as to which prevailed. She agreed that the Council’s correspondence had been confusing to Mr X, and at times, contradictory from different officers. As an alternative to an investigation, the Council agreed (within 14 days) to apologise in writing to Mr X for the lack of clarity on its position and decisions, and for the time and trouble this had caused to Mr X in complaining to the Ombudsman.