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Third Insight report highlights Covid-19 impact on complaints

30 July 2020

Our latest Insight report looks at complaints data and case studies from April to June 2020, and shows the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the volume and nature of complaints we received.

Our latest Insight report published today looks at complaints data and case studies from April to June 2020, together with some key lessons to share with landlords. It shows the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the volume and nature of complaints we received over this period.

Key data highlights from the report are:

  • The overall number of enquiries and complaints received between April and June at 2,212 was a significant reduction of 41% when compared to the same period in 2019
  • However call volumes in June were 10% higher compared to 2019 and 33% above 2018 levels
  • A greater proportion of enquirers were signposted to Shelter and Citizens’ Advice than usual with call handlers reporting more calls about rent arrears, universal credit and private renting
  • Complaints about tenant behaviour over this period increased to 21% of the total, compared to 12% in 2019, while repairs complaints, although still the largest category, reduced from 32% in 2019 to 27% in 2020.

We recognise that occasionally the behaviour or actions of individuals complaining to a landlord make it difficult for the landlord to deal with their complaint. Three of the six cases featured focus on this issue with a range of findings. They include a case ruled outside our jurisdiction because of the repeated use of offensive and discriminatory language by the resident. The report also examines two cases – one concerning gas safety – successfully resolved through mediation, a part of the service we are seeking to expand.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “This report clearly shows the impact of the Covid-19 restrictions on complaints, and we hope provides some valuable insight on issues and trends. Our cases have a particular emphasis on issues about unacceptable behaviour. While cases such as the one highlighted concerning repeated racist and homophobic language are the minority in our experience, it is important for us to demonstrate that it is not acceptable. The report also details recent examples of how we sometimes mediate to resolve cases. We hope that landlords find the report a useful learning tool.”

The report is the third in a continuing series that will now be published quarterly. It is part of our continuing progress towards being a more open and transparent service and promoting positive change by sharing knowledge and learning from its casework.

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