FIFE Council has apologised to a homeowner after asking her to pay for her share in painting of a block of flats – even though they didn’t own any of them.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman said there had been “maladministration at every step in the process” and ordered the local authority to say sorry.

A woman, known only as Miss C, owned a property in a block of four. She had complained that work undertaken on her property was not in line with an agreed mandate and that the council failed to provide her with appropriate information in relation to the works.

The council contacted all owners in Miss C’s block, giving a quote to paint the exterior of the property. The letter said that it was a notification of shared repair and it enclosed a mandate which, when signed, indicated agreement to the council taking the lead on the repair.

The exterior of her property was painted but none of the other properties were as the other occupiers had not agreed to the work.

Miss C complained to the council that she only agreed to the work being carried out because she understood that all of the properties in the block were going to be painted.

She said that if she had been made aware that the work was not going to be carried out on the whole block, she would not have signed the mandate.

The council said the mandate signed by Miss C was not conditional on the agreement of other owners in the block.

However the Ombudsman found the work carried out was not in line with the original mandate as that had confirmed Miss C’s agreement to shared repairs being carried out.

“We considered that, when it became clear that the other owners were not going ahead with the work, the council should have checked whether Miss C still wanted to go ahead,” stated the SPSO decision report.

“During the course of our investigation, it became clear that in fact none of the properties in Miss C’s block were owned by the council. Therefore, the council were not in a position to invoke their Shared Repairs - Mutual Owners Procedure.

“We considered that there had been maladministration at every step in the process.”

The SPSO asked Fife Council to apologise to Miss C for the work carried out on her property not having been in line with the agreed mandate.

They also had to apologise for failing to provide Miss C with appropriate information in relation to the works and and for unreasonably following their Shared Repairs – Mutual Owners Procedure in relation to repairs at Miss C’s block, despite not owning any properties in the block.

It told Fife Council to cancel the invoice for the works or reimburse Miss C for any sums paid in relation to the work carried out at her property.

The SPSO said that in order to put things right in the future, the Tenement Management Scheme should be followed and procedures reviewed and revised if necessary.

Fife Council service manager Louise Sutherland apologised for the inconvenience caused by the works carried out to the resident’s property.

She added: “We’ll be taking the Ombudsman’s recommendations on board to improve our services.”