Why do we collect 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.
What personal information do we collect about you?
You may contact the Housing Ombudsman by:
- our website
- social media
- in person.
The personal information we collect will be relevant 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
- 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. Access to this information is restricted:
- racial or ethnic origins
- sexual orientation
- religion or belief
- marriage or civil partnership
We may collect personal information from other sources such as:
- your landlord
- a representative
- another party to the complaint
Who might 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).
What do we do with information?
When we receive an enquiry or complaint we make up a file containing details of the complaint electronically, on paper or both. This normally contains the identity of the person making the complaint and any other individuals involved in the complaint together with the documentary evidence provided.
We do compile and publish case studies and other reports, which are examples of how we deal with types of complaints and statistics showing information like the number of complaints we receive but not in a form, which identifies anyone.
Any email sent to us, including attachments, may be monitored by us for reasons of security of our systems and for monitoring office policy. Email monitoring or blocking software may be used. Please be aware that you have the responsibility to ensure that any email you send us is within legal boundaries.
Calls to and from the 0300 111 3000 and direct dial lines of the Dispute Resolution Team are recorded for training and quality monitoring purposes.
You will be told about this in a recorded message before your call is put through to a member of staff. Calls that are recorded for these purposes will be kept secure and deleted after six months.
On line complaint form
If you make a complaint using our online complaint form you can save the form and come back to complete it at a later date. The form is stored and the contents are protected (encrypted), You will be asked for your email address and emailed a “key” to use when continuing to complete the form. That “key” will expire in 14 days if not used.
To ensure the security of documentary evidence, you will only be able to submit supporting documents to us when you are ready to submit a completed form. That form and any supporting documents are immediately sent to our case management system and nothing is saved on the website.
Customer satisfaction 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.
Security and performance
We use a third-party service to help maintain the security and performance of our website. To deliver that service it processes the IP addresses of visitors to the website to allow us to analyse the effectiveness of our website service.
Unacceptable service users
In most cases people who use our service are reasonable and allow us to do our job. However, some people behave in such a way that effects our ability to deal with their complaint or other people’s complaints. If this happens, we may need to manage the way that person contacts us.
In extreme cases, we keep details of people who we consider present a possible threat to the safety or well-being of our staff. We will normally tell the person when their details are recorded in this way, unless there are reasons for believing this may provoke unacceptable behaviour towards our staff. We regularly review information recorded in this way and delete it when it is no longer relevant.
Third party delivering a service
To help us process our work we have contracts with companies who provide us with services such as our reception service and IT support. Where they process your data for us our contract with them makes clear that they must hold it securely and only use it as we instruct them.
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.
How long do we keep hold of your information?
We keep personal information contained in complaint files in line with our Retention Policy. This means that information relating to a complaint is kept for twelve months from case closure. It is retained in a secure environment and access to it will be restricted according to the ‘need to know’ principle.
Telephone recordings are deleted after six months.
Contact details for the Data Protection Officer
Data Protection Officer
PO Box 152
Liverpool L33 7WQ
Telephone: 0300 111 3000
Calls to and from the 0300 111 3000 number are recorded for training and quality monitoring purposes.
Lines are open Monday to Friday from 9:15am to 5:15pm (except public holidays).
If you have a complaint about how we have handled your personal data under the Data Protection Act 2018, you can complain to the Information Commissioner:
Cheshire SK9 5AF