A housing watchdog has slammed Islington Council over its complaint handling after one woman slept in her car after there was no action over noise and dripping urine from neighbours.

In a special investigation report into the authority’s homes, the Housing Ombudsman found “severe maladministration” in a quarter of the cases it looked into.

The landlord was told that issues such as a “disjointed” approach to complaints were leading to problems persisting.

One woman was said to have started sleeping in her car after Islington Council failed to sort out nightly noise from her neighbours.

The woman, referred to as Ms W, told the authority she could “no longer take anymore” about contacting them 25 times in 16 months.

Among other complaints, she reported rats coming in from the flat upstairs and urine dripping from a leaking toilet above.

She was also concerned about privacy because it was possible to see through gaps in the ceiling.

After telling the landlord that she had begun to receive “intimidating and threatening letters” from her neighbour, she did not receive a response.

The case was so bad that the Ombudsman ordered the council’s chief executive to make an in-person apology.

The Town Hall also had to compensate Ms W to the sum of £3,920 for the way it handled her complaints.

The housing watchdog met with other residents to hear their concerns and review the council’s repairs cases, including damp and mould issues.

The Ombudsman said the council was “reactive, rather than proactive”, and found it was not tackling complaints within its own target timescale.

It ordered the council to pay out £66,441 in compensation to 30 residents, and made 186 recommendations for how it could improve.

The Ombudsman announced its investigation into housing cases in Islington after the council featured among a list of 32 social housing landlords criticised for their failings in more than half the cases brought to the watchdog.

Councillor Una O’Halloran, Islington council’s executive member for homes and communities, apologised for the cases highlighted by the Ombudsman.

She said: “We’ve already been working to put things right and have committed to making significant improvements.”

Cllr O’Halloran added that the council is setting up “a new localised approach to housing management, based on where people live, so residents have a single point of contact and staff take ownership of their patch”.

She said: “Alongside our work to give residents more power in how we run our services, this will help us transform our housing services over the next two years.”