We have published our first report setting out how we have used our new power to issue complaint handling failure orders. We issued 10 orders between January and March 2021 mostly due to unreasonable delays by landlords in accepting or progressing residents’ complaints through their process.
The report, which names the landlords concerned, shows that 8 out of the 10 orders were complied with, and in two cases the landlords did not comply. Both these complaints were taken into our formal investigation. Case studies illustrate how the orders work and their impact, including some resident feedback.
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 new power formed part of the revisions to the Housing Ombudsman Scheme that came into force last year which also included the Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code. It sets out clear expectations for landlords on handling housing complaints.
Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “It is crucial residents are listened to when they make a complaint and that landlords’ procedures are focused on timely resolution, not putting residents off complaining or a series of stages in order to reach the Ombudsman.
“Our Code sets clear expectations for efficient, effective and accessible complaint handling and we issue orders where landlords fail to meet them. These orders can now be made whilst the complaint is still within the landlord’s procedure. In most cases where we issued handling failure orders, the landlord responded well and sought to resolve the complaint, making clear the benefit of these orders to earlier resolution.
“However, it is disappointing that in two cases landlords did not comply, and we have taken these complaints into formal investigation. We received some really positive feedback from residents about the difference these orders have made to their experience of the complaints process, and I hope this report will promote transparency, accountability and learning across the social housing sector.”
See also the Ombudsman’s Guidance on determinations of complaint handling failure and orders.