The Housing Ombudsman issued 30 complaint handling failure orders between July and September 2021, highlighting issues with progressing complaints and meeting its standards on complaint handling. The latest report shows that in 24 cases the landlords complied, and there were six cases of non-compliance.
The purpose of complaint handling failure orders is to ensure that a landlord’s complaint handling process is accessible, consistent and enables the timely progression of complaints for residents. The power to issue them was introduced in the revised Housing Ombudsman Scheme.
Since first being issued in January 2021, the number of complaint handling failure orders has increased each quarter from 10 during January and March and 23 issued for the period April to June.
Alongside the latest report, the Ombudsman has produced new best practice guidance for landlords on effective complaint correspondence. In the guidance, based on resident feedback and casework reviews, the Ombudsman shares some of the challenges residents have faced when receiving correspondence from landlords and the best practice it has seen in its casework. The guidance sets out a number of recommendations.
Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “Complaints provide a valuable opportunity for landlords to listen to residents’ concerns, treat them fairly and put things right where they have gone wrong. It is important that complaints are progressed in a timely way and in line with our Complaint Handling Code, which sets out clear expectations for landlords on handling housing complaints. We issue orders where landlords fail to meet them and in most cases landlords comply. However, it is disappointing that in six cases the landlord did not comply.
“In our new guidance we have outlined our expectations of landlord communication and how effective correspondence can help resolve disputes between residents and landlords, as well as the resident’s right to refer an unresolved complaint to the Ombudsman. I encourage landlords to make use of the best practice identified and to consider the recommendations.”
The quarterly report also includes short case studies to illustrate how the orders work and the impact, including feedback from residents.
Image: Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway