It is looking for both residents, advice agencies and landlords to take part in the surveys (links below), to build a complete picture of what the social housing sector is grappling with.
The investigation will establish three areas of best practice:
- What it means to be vulnerable in social housing and what is an appropriate response by landlords
- What effective communication looks like and how this could help service better outcomes
- Whether there are areas (either service or demographic) where there are repeated patterns of poor service response.
The Ombudsman has chosen this topic after a recurrence of the issue in many of its cases, including severe maladministration findings where landlords fail to fulfil their obligations around human rights, including the Equality Act, or adhere to their vulnerable person policy.
When it has undertaken a wider special investigation into a landlord under paragraph 49 of its Scheme, the issue is also often present.
Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “Social landlords have a proud history of tackling social injustice and this housing crisis speaks to new social injustices in health, equality, and race. It is time for the sector to rise to this challenge.
“This is a complex and sensitive area but repeatedly we are seeing landlords not meeting basic obligations.
“Much of this is about respect and empathy but it goes far beyond communications. There needs to be a debate to define what being vulnerable means in social housing. This housing crisis is stretching the concept of ‘general needs’ housing to its limit.
“This report will look to shed light on these issues and look at where landlords have got this wrong, but also crucially where they have got it right. Both will provide strong learning opportunities for the sector.”
The call for evidence will close on 28 July 2023.