Which Ombudsman for social housing complaints?

This page sets out the social housing complaint categories that should be referred to either the Housing Ombudsman or the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

The Housing Ombudsman Service

Housing complaints for the Housing Ombudsman

In 2013 the Housing Ombudsman took over responsibility for all complaints about social housing. We investigate complaints from residents about landlords that provide social housing – including local authorities, housing associations, ALMOs (arm's length management organisations) Co-operatives and Abbeyfields.   

The Housing Ombudsman investigates complaints about landlord's housing management – for example property condition and repairs, charges, complaint handling and antisocial behaviour affecting residents in their home.  

We can only consider a complaint for investigation where we have evidence the issues have been raised and considered via the landlord’s complaint process.  

Complaints referred to the Housing Ombudsman

Unless stated otherwise the Housing Ombudsman considers complaints about housing associations and local housing authorities. 

Main issue Things the Housing Ombudsman investigates
Leasehold services
  • Shared ownership and sales processes for leasehold properties
  • Shared ownership stair-casing
  • Full ownership and sales processes for leasehold properties owned by housing associations
  • Right to buy and right to acquire for tenants of housing associations
  • Repair responsibilities under the lease
  • Mortgage rescue schemes
  • Leasehold services provided by the landlord
Moving to a property
  • Transfer applications that are outside Housing Act 1996 Part 6
  • Type of tenancy offered
  • Mutual exchange
  • Decision to renew a fixed tenancy
  • Decants (including those that are dealt with via (the local housing authority's) allocation policy)
  • Mobility Schemes
Rent and service charges
  • Rent or service charges
Occupancy rights
  • Terms and conditions of occupancy rights
  • Succession
  • Assignment
  • Ending a tenancy (such as notice periods)
  • Abandonment of property
  • Possession proceedings
Property condition – repairs and improvements
  • Condition of the property when first let (such as void works)
  • Responsive repairs
  • Planned maintenance or cyclical works
  • Improvement works carried out by landlord or tenant
  • Rechargeable repairs
  • Disabled adaptations
Tenant behaviour
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Noise nuisance
  • Harassment
Estate management
  • Cleaning or repairs of communal areas
  • Boundary issues
  • Grounds maintenance
  • Parking linked to occupancy agreement
  • Parking
  • Use of communal areas
Complaint handling
  • The landlord’s handling of a complaint in their complaint process, including delays
  • Home loss or disturbance payments
  • Improvements carried out by the tenant
  • Payment for damage to property or tenants' belongings
  • Discretionary payments

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Housing complaints for the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) considers complaints about the local authorities’ wider activities, for example how it handles a homelessness application and its statutory duty to provide homelessness advice and, in some cases, accommodation. The LGSCO also looks at complaints about the operation of a council’s housing allocation scheme and policies, including assessments of priority or banding given to an applicant applying for a home in its borough.  

The Local Government Ombudsman also considers complaints about other services the council provides, for example housing benefit applications, bin collections, planning applications and social care. You can visit their website for further information. 

Home - Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman 

If you are unhappy with a council service you have been provided, you should always make a complaint to your local authority in the first instance and use its complaint procedure before contacting the LGSCO.  

Complaints referred to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Unless stated otherwise the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman considers complaints about local authorities.

Main issue Things the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigates
Housing allocations under Housing Act 1996 Part 6
  • Applications for re-housing that meet the reasonable preference criteria (dealt with by the local housing authority or any other body acting on its behalf, which could include a housing association). Includes complaints about:
    • Assessment of such applications, the award of points, banding or a decision that the application does not qualify for reasonable preference
    • Operation of choice based lettings schemes and about the suitability of accommodation offered under those schemes.
Homelessness under Housing Act 1996 Part 7
  • Applications for assistance under the homelessness legislation (dealt with by the local housing authority or any other body acting on its behalf, which could include a housing association). Includes complaints about:
    • Homelessness advice and homelessness prevention activities
    • How applications are dealt with and decisions about eligibility for and allocation of interim and temporary accommodation.
    • The condition or suitability of temporary accommodation.
General housing advice
  • General advice from the local authority about housing options
  • Handling of reports from tenants of private landlords about unlawful eviction, harassment and other matters
Housing benefit
  • Handling of applications for housing benefit
Housing improvement grants
  • Applications for mandatory and discretionary housing improvement grants. Includes complaints about:
    • Provision of advice, processing of applications, preparation of schedules of work, payment of grant and other decisions on grant eligibility and entitlement
    • Actions of social services occupational therapy services with regard to assessment and eligibility for disabled facilities grant
Antisocial behaviour
  • Antisocial behaviour which does not fall within the remit of a social landlord.
Noise nuisance
  • Reports of statutory noise and other nuisance to environmental health services
Sale or disposal of land on housing estates
  • Applications or requests to buy parcels of land owned by local authorities
  • Sales processes for properties owned by local authorities
  • Right to buy and right to acquire for tenants of local authorities
Planning and building control at properties owned by a social landlord
  • Applications for planning permission
  • Planning enforcement
  • Applications and enforcement under the building regulations
Adult social care
  • Delivery of adult social care services, including that done by registered social landlords

Joint investigations

We sometimes see cases where there may be some overlap between which Ombudsman should look at a complaint about housing. In some cases, we can conduct joint investigations and have a Memorandum of Understanding. 

If you have a complaint about housing and are not sure which is the right Ombudsman to refer the complaint to after reading the information on this page, you can ask your landlord or contact us for more information. Your landlord should supply details for the correct Ombudsman in its final response to you at the last stage of its complaint process.  

What is a Memorandum of Understanding?

The Localism Act 2011 introduced changes to what housing complaints the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) and the Housing Ombudsman will investigate. As a result of this the two organisations drew up a joint agreement, also known as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to set out each Ombudsman’s role and what housing related complaints should be referred to each service.  

On this page, we have set out what housing issues are for the Housing Ombudsman to consider and what complaint issues should be referred to the Local Government Ombudsman.  

MoU between the Housing Ombudsman and the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

MoU between the Housing Ombudsman and the New Homes Ombudsman pdf

MoU between the Housing Ombudsman and the Regulator of Social Housing pdf

Which countries can use the Housing Ombudsman?

The Housing Ombudsman deals with complaints about social housing in England.

Social housing complaints Wales

If you want to complain about social housing in Wales, contact Public Services Ombudsman for Wales:

Public Services Ombudsman for Wales
1 Ffordd yr Hen Gae
CF35 5LJ

0300 790 0203


You can find more information about social housing complaints in Wales on the Welsh Government website Make a complaint about your council house or housing association home | GOV.WALES.

Social housing complaints Scotland

If you aren't happy with your social landlord and the service they're providing, there are a number of steps you can take.

Visit the Scottish Housing Regulator website for more information on what to do, including:

  • asking your social landlord for their complaints policy
  • the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
  • identifying significant performance failures
  • whistleblowing about a social landlord