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Privacy notice for dispute resolution

Contact details for the Data Protection Officer

Data Protection Officer
PO Box 152
Liverpool L33 7WQ

Telephone: 0300 111 3000

Email: dpo@housing-ombudsman.org.uk

On what basis do we process personal information?

The Housing Ombudsman is set up by law to look at complaints about housing organisations that are registered with us. Because we are set up by law we are allowed to process personal data from you to enable us to consider and investigate complaints. In doing so we must do it fairly and in line with the Data Protection Act 2018, ensuring appropriate safeguards are in place.

This privacy notice explains what type of personal data we might collect, from where and what we do with it.

We process personal information from the following people:
  • People who can use the Housing Ombudsman Scheme
  • Job applicants as part of recruitment exercises
  • Those making information access requests
  • Attendees at our training, webinars or other live events
  • Those who respond to our surveys
  • Members of our networks
  • Subscribers to our newsletters
  • Users of our website

Privacy notice for people who can use the Scheme

Why we collect personal information from you

 We collect personal information to enable us to carry out our statutory duties as an Ombudsman. These duties include considering and investigating complaints, providing advice and information, collecting customer feedback and undertaking research.

We record telephone calls made to our 0300 111 3000 reception service and calls into and out of the Dispute Resolution Team direct dial numbers for quality and training purposes.

What personal information do we collect about you?

You may contact the Housing Ombudsman by:

  • our website
  • telephone
  • email
  • letter
  • social media
  • in person.

The personal information we collect will be relevant to our consideration and investigation of your complaint. We may collect personal information from you and from other sources, this information could cover:

  • name and address
  • family details
  • details of your complaint
  • photographs/videos
  • sound recordings
  • details of personal behaviour
Special categories of information

This is personal data which is sensitive and may include:

  • health or medical information as relevant to our consideration or investigation
  • equality information to allow us to review accessibility to our service:
    • racial or ethnic origins
    • age
    • sex
    • sexual orientation
    • disability
    • religion or belief
    • marriage or civil partnership.

Access to this information is restricted.

We may collect personal information from other sources such as:

  • your landlord
  • a representative
  • another party to the complaint

Sharing your information

Who do we share your information with?

To enable us to deal with your complaint we will also need to show some of the personal information to other people such as:

  • the landlord complained about
  • your representative
  • professional advisers
  • our outsourced reception service
  • service providers
  • the police
  • other ombudsmen and regulatory authorities, (see the section below on joint working).
Publication of the Ombudsman’s determinations, reporting and data sets

 From 2021- 22 we will publish the following on our website:

  • anonymised case determinations, naming the landlord
  • annual landlord reports providing data on a landlord’s previous years complaint handling
  • quarterly reports naming landlords where a complaint handling failure order has been issued
  • Insight and Thematic reports, including information on trends and anonymised case studies
  • notification of any systemic investigation along with the outcome of the investigation will be published on our website
  • referrals to the Regulator of Social Housing relating to systemic investigations, potential breach of the consumer standards, non-compliance with the Ombudsman’s orders, and severe maladministration findings.
Anonymised determinations

Determinations do not normally contain particulars which are likely to identify any person if those particulars can be omitted without impairing the effectiveness of the report.

Investigation reports and determinations will be carefully checked to ensure confidentiality is maintained, particularly to ensure names are not included.

We will never publish the name of a resident or any information which, in the opinion of the Ombudsman, is likely to identify them.

Identification of parties to a complaint
The resident

We always use resident to describe the complainant unless they are not living at the property in which case we will use the applicant or the leaseholder.

We do not use real names or initials for the resident or anyone else involved in the complaint or the matters complained of.

A complaint made on behalf of a resident by a representative or interest group/residents’ association must not use a name that identifies that representative or group.

Member landlord

A member landlord will be identified by its overall business name.

Individual staff members/officers will not be identified by name .

We do not name organisations which are providing services on or behalf of a member landlord, for example, commercial firms, voluntary organisations, local/national charities. We may refer to them as ‘the contractor’, 'the agent' or similar.

Councillors and MPs

We do not name councillors or MPs. If the resident is represented by their councillor or MP or we need to comment on a councillor or MP's involvement, we will reference them as ‘the local councillor’ or 'their MP' ( if more than one councillor we may consider referring to them as Councillor A, Councillor B etc).

Addresses

As a rule, we will not disclose addresses of the resident or those representing them. However, there may be occasion when a complaint involves one or more addresses, or it concerns a specific development. In this case, we may consider using:

  • street 1 or street 2 and so on
  • the resident is complaining about a housing development where they live.
Exceptions to publication

It is envisaged that not all decisions will be published. We have considered some defined exceptions, for example:

  • where the facts of the case cannot be written without a risk of the resident or others being identified
  • where the resident and/or the landlord raise concerns regarding identification and the Ombudsman agrees it is not appropriate to publish
  • where the landlord is so small that the identity of the resident is likely to be easily discoverable
  • a landlord who is a voluntary member is not providing a public service and so may request non publication.
Reporting

For the reporting below we will name the member landlord organisation but not identify residents:

  • annual landlord reports providing data on a landlord’s previous years complaint handling
  • quarterly reports naming landlords where a complaint handling failure order has been issued
  • Insight and Thematic reports, including information on trends and case studies
  • notification of any systemic investigation along with the outcome of the investigation will be published on our website.
  • referrals to the Regulator of Social Housing relating to systemic investigations, breach of consumer standards, non-compliance with the Ombudsman’s orders, and severe maladministration findings
How we protect the information

We take the security of your personal information seriously. We have internal policies and controls in place to ensure that your data is not lost, accidentally destroyed, misused or disclosed.

The Ombudsman’s employees only access your data in the proper performance of their duties.

How we store and how long we keep personal information

We scan all documents and usually destroy paper copies of the documents unless you ask us to return those documents.

All electronic documents are generally deleted three years from the date of closure of a case.

Legacy paper files are subject to destruction.

Case management workflow parties’ details anonymised after seven years.

Telephone recordings are deleted after six months.

Keeping records of people who present unacceptable behaviour

In most cases people who use our service are reasonable. Occasionally, the behaviour or actions of individuals using our service makes it very difficult for us to deal with their complaint.

In a small number of cases the actions of individuals become unacceptable because they involve abuse of our staff or our process.

We keep details of people who we consider present unacceptable behaviour and who may present a possible threat to the safety or wellbeing of our staff.

We will normally tell the person when we record their details in this way. We regularly review information recorded in this way and delete it when it is no longer relevant.

Working with other organisations

The Housing Ombudsman and the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

The Housing Ombudsman Service and the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) are different organisations. The Localism Act 2011 introduced changes to the way complaints are dealt with for social housing. We have drawn up a Memorandum of Understanding as the basis of how we cooperate.

In order to carry out our roles in investigating complaints about housing we may have to disclose information to the LGSCO when we receive a complaint:

  • that is made to us instead of them
  • where the position is unclear
  • that is for neither party
  • that may involve the jurisdiction of both parties.

The Localism Act requires that we seek your consent should we need to carry out a joint investigation with the LGSCO.

The Regulator of Social Housing

The Housing Ombudsman Service also has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Regulator of Social Housing. It sets out the functions of each organisation and describes the arrangements for cooperation and communication between the two bodies in relation to their respective functions.

We may disclose information to the regulator where we think that disclosure is necessary for a purpose connected with the regulator’s functions. This may include:

  • providing statistical information, anonymised as appropriate, about the types of complaints we have received, highlighting particular themes or patterns arising
  • notification of appropriately anonymised information which, following investigation, provides evidence of potential systemic issues relating to a particular provider or providers.

Feedback surveys

We do not share your information with any third-party marketing companies.

We may, however, share your name and or your telephone number or email address with our reception service that carries out customer feedback for us.

If you prefer not to take part in the survey, you may withdraw or not respond at the point of contact.

 

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