The Housing Ombudsman issued 45 complaint handling failure orders between July and September 2022, the highest number since they came into effect in January 2021. In 39 cases the landlords complied and there were six cases of non-compliance.
The quarterly report names the landlords and shows that the 45 orders, all related to individual complaints, were issued to 30 landlords, made up of 15 councils, 14 housing associations and one housing co-op.
The majority of orders, 35, were issued while complaints were still within the landlord’s complaints procedure due to unreasonable delays in accepting or progressing a complaint through the process. In five of those cases, the landlord did not comply within target timescales. The remaining 10 orders were issued due to unreasonable delays in providing information requested by the Ombudsman when complaints were in its formal remit for investigation. In one case the landlord did not comply.
“It is alarming to see complaint failures at this level. There’s a real risk that cost of living pressures result in more complaints so it is critical for landlords to get their communication and handling procedures right now.
“This reinforces the need for landlords to reevaluate if their complaint teams have the necessary resources to do their jobs so they can deal with complaints effectively.
“We recognise the financial pressures on landlords but it makes complaints and the learning from those complaints even more important to help maintain effective services.”Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman
In the previous quarter, April to June 2022 the Ombudsman issued 22 complaint handling failure orders, 17 complied with and five 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, as set out in the Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code. The orders should also help landlords identify where their complaints procedure may need to be strengthened in line with the Code.