FAQs

Below are a list of the questions that we are most often asked by people using our Service.

Is my landlord a member of your Scheme?

All housing associations and local authorities (councils) must be a member of our Scheme; we also have some private landlords which are voluntary members.  We reguarly update our list of members, you can check if they are a member by clicking here.  By law we only consider complaints about member landlords.

I’ve made a complaint to my landlord but they won’t do anything so what is the point of complaining?

Making a complaint can sometimes be frustrating but landlords need a chance to put things right and to learn from the complaints they receive from their residents; they can’t do that unless they know there is a problem. In addition we cannot consider a complaint that hasn’t been looked at by the landlord so we encourage people to contact their landlord as soon as they identify a problem.

What should I do if my landlord does not respond to my formal complaint?

Sometimes things get lost in the post or go to the wrong department. It is always worth checking that you have sent the complaint to the right department or person and if necessary resending the complaint. If you still do not get a response you may want to contact a ‘designated person’ who could help you pursue the complaint and work with the landlord to put things right. Our role is to encourage and assist landlords and tenants to resolve a dispute at the earliest opportunity so you may still contact us to talk about your concerns and see if we can help in this way. There are also some complaints about local authorities (councils) that we cannot consider. For me information please go to this factsheet.

What kind of complaints can you look at?

We consider complaints about how a landlord has responded to reports of a problem and consider what is fair in all the circumstances. We do not look at the original problem, for example we do not decide if there has been anti-social behaviour or if a property has damp but whether a landlord dealt with the reported problem in line with the tenancy agreement or lease, and with its own policies.

Can you make my complaint for me?

We are impartial so we cannot act for a complainant or a landlord but we can help landlords and tenants to communicate with each other and resolve the situation. We also maintain a list of other agencies such as Shelter or the local CAB that may be able to help. You can view this list by clicking here.

Can you make my landlord take immediate action regarding my concerns, e.g. outstanding repairs or ASB?  

No, that remains the landlord’s responsibility but we have a number of factsheets on subjects such as service charges, repairs etc that may help in first reporting a problem and identifying what you can expect from your landlord.

I’m considering taking my landlord to court; can I still bring my case to HOS?

We are an alternative dispute resolution service, we were set up to help landlords and tenants resolve disputes without going to court and under our Scheme we cannot consider cases that have already been to court. However if you have not started legal action you may still contact us to talk about your concerns and see if we can help you resolve the matter.

My landlord is charging me too much - how can you help me?

We are not able to consider complaints about the level of rent and/or service charges. If you think you are being charged too much you may want to contact an advice agency such as Shelter or if you want to get a binding decision you will need, in the first instance to contact the First Tier Tribunal - Property Chamber (Residential Property).

Should I accept the compensation my landlord has offered?

This is your decision, we can’t tell you what to do – you may want to talk it through with someone you trust but it may help to know that compensation is not meant to be a punishment nor is it the same as damages that are awarded by a court. We only order compensation when we have found that there has been maladministration. The amount depends on the circumstances of the case and is usually for time and trouble bringing a complaint or for distress and inconvenience experienced by the complainant. For more information go to our factsheet on compensation.

How long will my case take?

We receive high volumes of cases and we are implementing a new casework system which aims to deal with these as quickly and efficiently as possible. We provide support to landlords and residents to resolve the majority of disputes within the landlord’s internal complaints procedure but if your case is not fully resolved after this we may work with you and your landlord to resolve the dispute under our early resolution process as fairly and quickly as we can. We will try to help you reach agreement with your landlord within two months but if this is not possible your case may be referred for investigation. This is a longer, more complex process but we are aiming to complete 95% of cases within 12 months.  

Which organisation regulates the social housing sector?

The regulator for social housing is the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). Although we have different functions we have a Memorandum of Understanding which sets out how we work together. For more information see our page on Working with the regulator.

 Which organisation regulates the Housing Ombudsman?

The Housing Ombudsman is independent of national or local government but we have a sponsoring government department, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).