Barnet Council’s housing arm has paid out £600 in compensation for delays and uncertainty to a mother seeking an adapted home for her disabled daughter.

The Local Government Ombudsman, which looks into complaints against local authorities, investigated Barnet Homes after the woman complained the council’s actions had affected her daughter’s health and “caused avoidable distress to the family”.

The mother, referred to as Ms X by the ombudsman, asked the council for help in being rehoused in 2017, claiming her first-floor housing association property was not suitable as her daughter is disabled and has a serious medical condition.

She said her daughter needed specialised medical apparatus, including a bed, wheelchair, and specialist feeding equipment, but there was not enough space for the adaptations in her current home.

In February 2018, the council’s medical advisor recommended a four-bedroom property with full wheelchair access, adding that the accommodation should be on the ground floor if there was no lift.

Two months later, Barnet Homes told the woman via email that she had been put in the second-highest priority band for housing and said she could challenge the decision when she received the banding letter.

But the mother had to wait a further two months for the council to send the letter. When she received it, she appealed the decision and was placed in band one. The ombudsman also found evidence Barnet Homes delayed responding to a complaint she had made.

In addition, the ombudsman found Barnet Homes did not seek funding to adapt empty council properties until September 2019, around 18 months after it was aware that the family needed a fully wheelchair-accessible property.

The mother complained that she had been waiting more than four years for the council to find her suitable accommodation. But the ombudsman said this was down to a shortage of suitable properties, and there was no evidence the council had operated its housing allocations policy unfairly.

Investigating another aspect of the complaint, the ombudsman said the council did not maintain an effective and robust administrative process. As well as paying £600 in recognition of the delays and uncertainty, Barnet Homes agreed to consider amending the band one priority date and to remind staff to keep accurate, up-to-date records.

A Barnet Homes spokesperson said: “Barnet Homes has implemented the recommendations of the ombudsman and has apologised to Ms X. We complete lessons learnt for all such complaints to try and prevent them from happening again.”