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Ombudsman records highest level of non-compliance in complaint handling failure orders

19 September 2023

The Ombudsman’s latest Complaint Handling Failure Order report shows the highest number of non-compliant landlords with the orders since the data was first recorded.

We have released the previous quarter’s data on complaint handling for our Complaint Handling Failure Order report, finding the highest number of non-compliant landlords since the reports were first put together.

From April to June 2023, we issued 43 Complaint Handling Failure Orders (CHFOs) with 18 of those not being complied with, the most non-compliance in one quarter. CHFOs are issued to support a resident to raise or escalate a complaint within their landlord’s procedure, gather evidence to progress a formal investigation or address outstanding compliance with our remedies.

Most are issued pre-investigation, with more than 6,000 cases handled by the Ombudsman at this stage over the period, illustrating the exceptional basis for issuing the order.

On the back of this, we have written to those organisations who did not comply with more than one CHFO.

The landlords that did not comply with our orders are: Alpha Housing Co-operative, Southwark Council (x3), L&Q, Arneway Housing Co-operative, Haringey Council (x2), Reliance Social Housing C.I.C, Barking and Dagenham Council (x3), Aves Housing, Ash-Shahada Housing Association, Polish Retired Persons Housing Association, A2Dominion Group, Havering Council and My Space Housing Solutions.

For those landlords who have received more than one CHFO, the Ombudsman has added a new section to the report, sharing the learning from these cases in more detail so that other landlords do not repeat the same failings.

In this report, we have also included data around the total number of its enquiries, which demonstrates the prevalence of failure to comply with the timescales for responding to complaints, as 66% of residents experienced a delay from their landlord.

And once again, the report contains key lessons from all of the cases involved within the report and shares vital information and guidance around our intervention work, which limits the need for formal action.

Three landlords are also highlighted by the Ombudsman for taking effective action to strengthen complaint handling during the quarter. These are: Waltham Forest Council, Stonewater and Livv Housing.

Read the report

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “It is exceptional for us to issue a failure order and every one comes after several attempts to engage the landlord. For a landlord to receive several and not comply, indicates its complaints procedure is not working as it should.

“The result is residents continually waiting for redress and landlords missing opportunities to put something right sooner.

“It is vital landlords assess their complaints procedure as the Complaint Handling Code becomes statutory. This means ensuring its complaints team has the resources and leverage within the landlord to do its job.

“This report provides valuable insight into current complaint handling approaches and highlights where there may be weaknesses in culture, policy, procedure or challenges relating to resource. I would encourage all landlords be proactive in making the changes needed ahead of the statutory Code to ensure there is fairness for residents when making a complaint.”

We will be holding a Complaint Handling Code drop-in session for landlords who have questions about complying with the Code. The next is on 26 October and you can sign up here.