Catalyst Housing Limited
13 May 2022
The Housing Ombudsman’s approach to investigating and determining complaints is to decide what is fair in all the circumstances of the case. This is set out in the Housing Act 1996 and the Housing Ombudsman Scheme (the Scheme). The Ombudsman considers the evidence and looks to see if there has been any ‘maladministration’, for example whether the landlord has failed to keep to the law, followed proper procedure, followed good practice or behaved in a reasonable and competent manner.
Both the resident and the landlord have submitted information to the Ombudsman and this has been carefully considered. Their accounts of what has happened are summarised below. This report is not an exhaustive description of all the events that have occurred in relation to this case, but an outline of the key issues as a background to the investigation’s findings.
- The complaint is about:
- The landlord’s handling of reports of cold and draughty rooms.
- The landlord’s handling of reports of other defects.
- The Ombudsman has also considered the landlord’s complaint handling.
Background and summary of events
Policies and Procedures
- The landlord’s Development Control Manual with regards to managing defects in “Catalyst Development Counties” properties states:
a. “The new schemes/properties are under a Defects liability period (under warranty from the date the resident takes up their tenancy) for 24 months from PC date with contractor. We offer HO’s a year from completion date.”
- “Defects will be reported directly to Customer Care via our email address email@example.com. These will then be reported to the contractor. These defects are raised and sent to the contractor … Weekly updates will be sent from the contractor.”
- The landlord has a two-stage complaints procedure:
- At Stage one (Complaint Review), “The Customer Resolution Expert has 10 working days to investigate and respond to the customer directly from the date the complaint was logged.”
- At Stage two (Appeal), “The customer will be informed of our decision within 10 working days from the date of the appeal. Later responses can be considered where it is reasonable a request could not be made within 10 working days”. The procedure also states “For more complex cases the manager or above may require longer than 10 working days to conduct their investigation and provide a response. Should this situation arise, the manager or senior manager will notify the customer of the reason(s) for the extension, progress to date and when the customer can expect a full response. This notification can be in writing or by phone”.
- The landlord’s Compensation Policy at the time of the complaint stated that: “If the claim does not fit in any of the categories stated, the investigating officer can recommend a discretionary payment taking into consideration:
- Length of time it has taken us to resolve the problem,
- Any difficulties a customer has had in pursuing their issue,
- Disruption to the household,
- Any additional costs incurred.”
Summary of Events
- The resident and her partner are shared owners and they moved into their property, a new build house with three floors, on 31 March 2020. It is understood that the upper floor has a bedroom with an ensuite bathroom. The resident and her partner both contacted the landlord at different times regarding the matters complained of. For ease of reference this report shall only make reference to “the resident”.
- On 21 October 2020 the resident confirmed an appointment for a contractor to attend to a defect to the doors. She also raised other issues, including a poor finish to the garden which had been reported several times before, and reported to the developer that there was a draught from the foot of the first floor stairs leading up to the top floor, possibly due to poor insulation.
- The resident also raised concerns about the heating itself, stating that whilst there was good heating on the ground floor where the thermostat was located, it was difficult to heat the top floor and the middle floor varied from cold to satisfactory. The resident suggested that once the thermostat had reached its requirement on the bottom floor, the upper two floors were not as heated. She expressed concern about the warmth of the property for her young family through winter. (The resident has advised this Service that the coldness was not evident throughout the summer months). The landlord subsequently raised an order on 23 October 2020 for a contractor to attend to the items raised.
- On 9 December 2020 the landlord asked the resident to confirm if the issues were ongoing. She advised this was the case, raising concerns about delays and stating “We are losing a lot of heat from our top floor to the point where we have had to move to the middle floor as through the night the temperature drops so low it is impossible to keep a baby in there. The heat is escaping from somewhere”. On 22 January 2021 the landlord asked the resident to confirm all outstanding defects.
- The landlord’s records note that the developer attended in January 2021 but could not resolve the defects, so re-attended on 10 February 2021 to investigate. It inspected a neighbouring property as two other new build properties reported similar problems and it assumed the cause was the same. The developer failed to attend an appointment at the resident’s property on 24 February 2021 and after the resident stated that defects were outstanding it agreed to re-attend on 16 March 2021. The resident has advised this Service that the developer agreed to carry out investigations with an intrusive camera, but this did not occur.
- On 13 March 2021 the resident wrote to the landlord noting that the developer had investigated her concerns about draughts and a cold room by inspecting a neighbour’s property, and that the neighbour had advised the issue was not insulation but vents on the outside upper walls; however, the developer had previously identified missing insulation on a board in the eaves making the walls cold, and an uninsulated pipe in a cupboard meaning there was a hole to the roof space which were different or extra issues in her property.
- The resident also said that the developer had noted an issue with the sealing around her windows on the second floor and that the windows may need to be refitted in warmer weather; however, the landlord had not responded to this issue in any correspondence. The resident advised that she was struggling to keep the property warm and could not use the top floor. It is understood that the resident intended for her baby to make use of the room.
- The landlord’s internal correspondence dated 16 March 2021 noted that it would rectify the draught issue, but it was in the process of establishing the extent of the works needed and how it could be carried out with minimal disruption. There is no evidence that the landlord provided the resident with details of the investigations and the works that were identified as a result.
- The resident also submitted an online complaint form on 11 March 2021 and the landlord spoke to her to obtain further details on 17 March 2021. The resident confirmed her concerns about her windows, a missing pipe and board, a “massive draught” which she understood was attributable to an insulation problem, and no heating in the top floor bedroom, all issues which she said remained unresolved after a year. She also raised concerns about metal pieces in the garden under the lawn which she considered a health and safety issue for her children playing in the garden. She explained she was unhappy about the lack of update on the repairs and the developer providing minimal information.
- On 16 March 2021 the developer advised the landlord it had asked its contractor to rectify issues raised. The landlord’s internal correspondence indicates that the developer made an appointment with the resident for 1 April 2021 with regards to the insulation and board, lack of heating on the top floor, pipe / hole issues. However, the landlord’s records do not confirm what, if any, works were carried out at the appointment, and there is no evidence that the landlord or the developer advised the resident what works were carried out.
- On 6 April 2021 the resident wrote to the landlord stating she had been told that the problems with the garden had not been raised as a defect, despite raising the issue nine months previously and the developer attending to investigate. The resident also raised concerns about the “lacklustre” response to the defects reported to the windows in the two bedrooms in the middle floor, which caused her children to wake up at night from being cold. With regards to the windows, the resident noted she had reported this issue on several occasions and the developer had attended to investigate eight weeks prior; however, she had now been told to raise the window issue with the repairs team even though this issue had already been considered and inspected by the developer.
- On 6 April 2021, the landlord wrote to the resident noting that new build properties can have various amounts of defects, especially in the first year. It advised that the Customer Care Team had been instructed to maintain contact and advise of appointments made. The landlord noted that most defects were booked in for a visit or had been completed. The landlord offered £150 “as a way of saying sorry”.
- On 9 April 2021 the developer advised the landlord that there was not a sealant issue with the windows, but the hinge/keeper needed to be adjusted, and that it had asked its window contractor to attend and make good.
- On 26 April 2021 the landlord’s Customer Care Team advised the resident that all defects should be sent to the defects team so they could be logged with the developer. The resident advised that she had been told by the member of staff dealing with her complaint that she should make a report to the Customer Care Team; however, the Customer Care Team advised that this was incorrect.
- On 3 May 2021 the resident responded to the complaint response of 6 April 2021 stating that:
- Works to put insulation in the upper floor of the property had been completed over three days but this entailed going through plasterboard. No dust sheets were used and debris was left in the parking space.
- The defects booked in or completed were “major” as they prevented use of the top floor of the house. The property should not have been handed over for sale as vital insulation was missing.
- Tradesmen had advised that radiators on the top floor were neither correctly sized nor positioned.
- Regarding minor defects, the Customer Care Team and the Defects Team had advised them to contact the other party.
- There had been an improvement to the draft on the top floor, but the temperature was still cooler there, possibly due to the radiator issue. The resident also suggested that air could be coming through each of the windows, as was the case on the middle floor, and that that she hoped to know more after an inspection by the developer’s window contractor that was due on 6 May 2021.
- Her family had been unable to use the upper floor and had to use increased heating to warm rooms with incorrectly fitted windows. As a result, she would not accept the offer of £150.
- On 17 May 2021, the resident contacted this Service about her complaint stating that her property had a draught, there was a hole in the roof and radiators were incorrectly placed. On the same day, this Service asked the landlord to respond to the complaint and the landlord stated that the complaint would be escalated to Stage 2.
- On 17 May 2021 the resident also wrote to the landlord stating that the windows had been tightened at the catches which had made some improvement. However, she believed further investigations were needed, in particular to the heating to the top floor as several operatives had advised that the radiator was incorrectly placed and not large enough. The resident asked that the landlord chase up defects and heating issues and advise her when remedial works would be completed.
- On 25 May 2021 the landlord emailed the contractor which asked it to check that the top floor had a 600 x 900mm radiator in the bedroom, and a 1211 x 600mm towel radiator in the ensuite. It is not evident that the landlord responded to the developer or the resident at the time.
- On 17 June 2021 the resident advised this Service that she had not received a response from the landlord. She advised that the insulation had not been installed properly, there was a hole in the property and there were tiling issues in the top floor bedroom. She also stated that her concerns about the radiator remained.
- On 1 July 2021 the resident’s Stage 2 complaint was assigned to a senior manager. However, a response was not forthcoming and on 5 August 2021, this Service issued a Complaint Handling Failure Order (CHFO) to the landlord.
- The developer’s roofing contractor inspected the resident’s property on 2 August 2021. On 9 August 2021 the landlord advised the resident that the roofer had confirmed that the roof, tiles and vents were all in good condition. The landlord added that it did not think the developer would change the radiator as the developer considered that it met the minimum requirement for the room.
- On 10 August 2021 the landlord issued its Stage 2 complaint response. It noted that its response to correspondence about defects had generally been quick. It noted that the developer had attended on 28 June 2021 to resolve outstanding defects but there remained outstanding defects following that visit which it would provide updates on:
- “Various door handle surrounds fallen off – Still not fixed – To add, because of this the kitchen door is now stiff and we have trouble opening and closing.
- The top floor radiator being too small – measurements as per drawings, but over a dozen people in the trade have stated it’s too small for the room size and in the wrong place.
- Leak under sink and towel rail – Sink is completed yes but to be kept an eye on – Towel rail needs replacing same issue as rust has got into the chrome as per the workman who placed our middle floor one stated.
- Cold rooms – slight improvement but still cold, probably because we still have a hole in our roof that needs fixing ASAP – This is a matter of urgency as from September temperature will start to drop and we will have to use the room fully as we will have a new-born baby.
- Drilling sound from where the draught works took place – happens when windy.
- Nail pops in the carpet – Not completed still awaiting a number for them as requested over a month ago.
- Crack in bath panel – Still not done, needs replacing not repairing.
- Gap in the front door – Still there.
- Missing fire document and diamond guarantee from our folder. Still missing.
- Pencil circles drawn on the walls by Taylor French – Still there.
- Air bubbles in plaster that was re painted after works – In the process of being fixed. Incomplete.”
- The landlord stated that its Customer Care Team would contact the resident about the outstanding repairs, and it increased the offer of compensation to £500 due to its management of the defects and the complaint.
- On 18 August 2021 the resident advised this Service that she was unhappy with the response to her complaint as it focussed on the minor defects and not the main issue of how cold the middle and upper rooms were. The resident also stated that when insulating works were carried out, a tradesman had noted there was a space in the eaves which was letting air into the property and may have exacerbated the problems from draughts; however, this issue was not investigated by the landlord.
- On 13 October 2021 the resident advised this Service that the minor defects referred to in the landlord’s complaint response were still mainly outstanding. She explained that the developer had allocated a contractor half a day to complete the list and failed to send a separate contractor for the plumbing. The resident advised that the landlord did not take responsibility for the garden, which had nails under the decking and in the grass, wire entwined in the turf and rubble underneath. She advised that she was still losing heat on the top floor and was concerned that this was still an issue even after insulation has been put in. The resident advised that a new issue had arisen – air coming from behind the toilet on the middle floor.
- The landlord’s internal correspondence with the developer dated 11 November 2021 noted that the resident and other neighbours were still reporting draughts on the top floor. The landlord noted that the resident had reported a draught behind the toilet which required expanding foam around the soil pipe connections. The landlord also noted that insulated board bulkheads that had been fitted had gaps and were still letting in cold air into rooms, and as the rest of the walls were single skin plasterboard without any insulation, it was still getting cold.
- In April 2022, the resident advised this Service that the coldness in the upper floor of the properties remained, although not as acute as before. The developer’s contractor had inspected earlier in 2022 and stated that whilst works were carried out to specification, more insulation should be installed. However, when the developer reattended with the contractor, the developer and the landlord both stated that no more work will be carried out.
- The resident has also advised this Service that she has queried with the landlord why the thermostat is on the 1st floor of the house and not the middle, and the landlord has responded that this does not matter. The resident has also advised this Service that she has only recently received from the landlord a copy of the building warranty and that it will cost £1,000 to pursue a claim, as this is the cost of a claim not made within six months.
Assessment and findings
The landlord’s handling of reports of cold and draughty rooms.
- The Ombudsman does not carry out independent technical assessments of disputed repair and maintenance issues. In investigating this complaint, the reasonableness and appropriateness of the landlord’s handling of the issues have been considered, taking into account its legal obligations, its policies and procedures, and good practice.
- Under the defect liability period the developer had a responsibility to remedy defects reported during this time. The landlord’s Development Control Manual confirms that it had a responsibility to administer the rectification of defects, logging them and obtaining updates from the developer. As the landlord was the resident’s primary point of contact it was also responsible for updating her.
- The resident reported coldness and draughts in her property in October 2020. Although the landlord promptly raised an order, there is no evidence that it sought updates from the developer or otherwise maintained oversight over the defects reported, which was not in line with the guidance in the manual, or more generally, with its role as the resident’s landlord. It was not until February 2021 that the developer investigated the issue which was four months after the resident’s initial report. This was an unreasonable delay, particularly given that the winter months were passing during which time coldness and draughts were likely to be more acutely felt. As the landlord failed to maintain oversight of the defects, it did not take the steps that may have expedited the action by the developer and mitigated the delay.
- The resident had a reasonable expectation that she would be informed of the outcome of the inspection of 10 February 2021 given that the purpose was to investigate a defect that she had raised that was affecting her use of the property. However, there is no evidence that the landlord advised her of the outcome, either directly or by ensuring that the developer advised of the outcome, despite the resident complaining about receiving “minimal information”.
- This Service expects landlords to be transparent with their residents, both so individual disputes can be resolved and to maintain the landlord / tenant relationship. The landlord’s failure to provide the resident with the outcome of the inspection prolonged her uncertainty, in particular as she understood there may be issues specific to her property not apparent at the inspection, namely missing insulation, an uninsulated pipe and draughts through the middle floor windows. As such there was a failure in communication which exacerbated the resident’s distress and inconvenience arising from the delay in the inspection in the first instance.
- The resident’s Stage 2 complaint of 3 May 2021 confirms that works to improve the insulation of the top floor of the resident’s property had been completed by then. Also, the window contractor attended the resident’s property on 6 May 2021 to better seal the windows. It is therefore evident that the landlord took some action to reduce the draughts and coldness reported. HoweHowever, by the time the works were carried out, several months, including the winter months, had passed from the resident’s initial report. Due to the delay in carrying out works the landlord missed an opportunity to ascertain the effectiveness of the works at the earliest opportunity.
- In May 2021 the resident indicated that the problems were ameliorated to a degree but not fully resolved, referring to draughts through vents/roof/tiles in the property and incorrectly sized and located radiators on the top floor. Again, there is no evidence that the landlord took action to ensure these further matters were investigated in a reasonable timeframe. It was not until 2 August 2021 that the roofing contractor inspected and 9 August 2021 that the landlord communicated the findings regarding the roof/tiles/vents and radiators.
- The landlord’s Stage 2 response noted that the resident was still unhappy about “cold rooms”. Correspondence after the completion of the complaints procedure confirms that the landlord continued to receive reports of draughts and coldness on the top floor. In fact, its emails of 11 November 2021 with the developer confirm that it understood that the insulated board bulkheads had gaps and that there were cold single skin plasterboard walls without insulation. This indicates that the landlord accepted that there were still unresolved defects. However, there is no evidence that it or the contractor committed to carry out further remedial works.
- Moreover, despite the landlord stating in the Stage 2 response that it would maintain contact with the resident, again there is no evidence that the landlord kept the resident updated on any further action to be taken up for several months after the response. As such there continued to be delays by the landlord in addressing the resident’s ongoing concerns about draughts and coldness, which has again prolonged her uncertainty. The fact that the resident was approaching a second winter with no indication that any further works to reduce the draughts and coldness would take place, demonstrated a lack of urgency in reaching an ultimate resolution on the part of the landlord.
The landlord’s handling of reports of other defects
- Although the resident’s initial and main complaint concerned coldness and draughts, she also raised several other “minor” defects. This included a report that the grass in the garden contained nails, wire and rubble. However, there is no evidence that the landlord pursued this matter on behalf of the resident with the developer as it was required to do. This was particularly unreasonable given the concerns raised by the resident over her children using the garden.
- In the Stage 2 response the landlord listed several other defects and committed to maintain contact with the resident about the repair works. However, there is no evidence that it kept the resident informed about what action was being taken to remedy these defects or that it sought to establish whether the resident considered the defects remedied. There is also no evidence that the landlord sought information from the developer about rectification of these defects. As such it is concluded that the landlord has not taken reasonable action to address or resolve the other defects raised by the resident.
- The resident’s formal complaint provided the resident with an opportunity to “Put Things Right”, which is one of this Service’s Dispute Resolution Principles (“Be Fair”, “Put Things Right”, and “Learn From Outcomes”). Landlords’ complaints handling procedures should demonstrate that their purpose is to resolve disputes and restore the tenant’s position if something has gone wrong. This entails identifying what went wrong and why, acknowledging any landlord responsibility and the outcome sought by the complainant and taking appropriate steps to remedy the service failure. Resolving the dispute is a step to improving or rebuilding the landlord / tenant relationship.
- The Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code states that “Landlords must confirm the following in writing to the resident at the completion of stage one in clear, plain language:
- the complaint stage.
- the complaint definition.
- the decision on the complaint.
- the reasons for any decisions made.
- details of how to escalate the matter to stage two if the resident is not satisfied with the answer”.
- The landlord’s initial response of 6 April 2021 made a general point that new build properties can have defects but did not acknowledge the specific defects reported by the resident. The response concluded that most of the defects were being dealt with or completed without referring to the defects reported by the resident again. It apologised and offered compensation without stating what service failures had occurred and considering to what extent the landlord met its own responsibility. As such the response was cursory and not in line with the Complaint Handling Code. The response also failed to meet the standards set out in the Code as it did not state the complaint stage and make clear how the complaint could be escalated.
- This Stage 2 response was also unfocussed as it simply quoted the defects reported by the resident in their own words but did not state what defects it and the developer accepted. Indeed, in the case of the top floor radiator the landlord’s response was particularly unhelpful given that it had previously stated on 2 August 2021 that there was no basis to change the radiators. Furthermore, the Stage 2 response did not consider the landlord’s handling of defects reported. Afterwards, the landlord did not fulfil the outcome of the Stage 2 complaint as it did not maintain contact with resident about the listed defects. Therefore, taken altogether, there was significant failures in the handling of the complaint at Stage 2.
- The Complaint Handling Code states that “Complaint handlers should be able to act sensitively and fairly”. Acknowledging the impact on a resident and showing empathy can help resolve a complaint. In this case, the landlord did not appreciate the impact on the resident’s family, for instance, not feeling she could use the top floor or garden and having an increased heating bill. It did not acknowledge the frustration caused to the resident by being given conflicting information on how to report defects. Taken altogether, the landlord missed opportunities to address and resolve the wider aspects of the resident’s complaint, show empathy, and improve the landlord/tenant relationship.
- The landlord also delayed in sending its complaint responses, not meeting the timeframes set out in its complaints procedure at each stage. The delay at Stage 2 was particularly unreasonable, as it took over three months for the response to be sent and only after this Service issued a CHFO.
- Offering financial redress can resolve a complaint, and in this case the landlord made a discretionary offer of £500 as allowed for by its Compensation Policy. However, given that the landlord did not explain what service failures it accepted and considered, the amount appears to be arbitrary. Whilst the landlord’s attempt to resolve the complaint by offering compensation is acknowledged, the offer was not proportionate to the circumstances of the case. In reaching this decision, the Ombudsman has considered the extent of the landlord’s failures in its handling of defects and the impact on the resident, its complaint handling failings, and the fact that there have been further service failures in the landlord’s handling of defects after the complaints procedure was completed.
- The Ombudsman has other cases awaiting investigation which raise complaints about complaint handling.
- The Ombudsman intends to conduct a further investigation beyond this initial complaint, to establish whether there is any evidence of systemic failings in the landlord’s handling of these issues.
- In accordance with paragraph 54, there was maladministration by the landlord in respect of its handling of the resident’s reports of cold and draughty rooms.
- In accordance with paragraph 54, there was maladministration by the landlord in respect of its handling of reports of other defects.
- In accordance with paragraph 54, there was severe maladministration by the landlord in respect of its complaint handling.
- In accordance with paragraph 50, the Ombudsman is concerned that, regarding the issues raised around complaint handling, there is presenting evidence of service failure that may be indicative of a systemic failing.
The landlord’s handling of reports of cold and draughty rooms, due to inadequate insulation
- After the resident’s initial report of draughts and coldness, there is no evidence that the landlord sought updates from the developer or otherwise maintained oversight over rectification of this defect. There was a delay in the developer investigating the defect during which time the landlord did not take sufficient steps to expedite action by the developer and mitigate the delay.
- The landlord’s failure to provide the resident with the outcome of the inspection of the neighbour’s property of 10 February 2021 prolonged her uncertainty, particularly as she understood there may be issues specific to her property – namely missing insulation, an uninsulated pipe and draughts through the middle floor windows – that would not be apparent at the inspection.
- There were further delays by the landlord investigating and outlining the outcome on the resident’s ongoing concerns about defects to vents/roof/tiles and incorrectly sized and located radiators on the top floor contributing to coldness and draughts.
- After the landlord sent the Stage 2 response, there continued to be delays by the landlord in addressing the resident’s ongoing concerns about draughts and coldness, and in keeping her informed, which has again prolonged her uncertainty.
The landlord’s handling of various reports of defects in the new build property
- There is no evidence that the landlord pursued the resident’s reports about her garden and the grassed areas on her behalf with the developer as it was required to do. There is no evidence that it kept the resident informed about what action was being taken to remedy the other defects listed in the Stage 2 response or sought to establish whether the resident considered the defects remedied. There is also no evidence that the landlord sought information from the developer about rectification of these defects.
The landlord’s complaint handling
- The landlord’s responses within the complaints procedure did not sufficiently identify what had gone wrong, what action would be taken to remedy the defects and assess to what extent the landlord met its responsibility. The landlord missed opportunities to address the wider aspects of the resident’s complaint, show empathy and possibly improve the landlord/tenant relationship. The landlord also delayed in sending its complaint responses, not meeting the timeframes set out in its complaints procedure at each stage.
- The Ombudsman orders that within the next four weeks, the landlord pays the resident £1650 compensation, comprising:
a. £500 offered at the end of the complaints procedure, if not already paid.
b. £600 for the distress and inconvenience experienced by her in respect of its handling of her reports of draughts and coldness in the property.
c. £300 for the distress and inconvenience experienced by the resident in respect of the handling of other defects raised.
d. £250 for the distress and inconvenience, time and trouble, experienced by the resident in relation to the handing of their complaint.
- The Ombudsman orders that within the next six weeks:
- The landlord confirms to the resident, copying in the Ombudsman, its current position on her reports of draughts and coldness within the middle floor and the upper floor of her property. If it considers that sufficient remedial works have now been taken it should explain why it is taking that view, provide the evidence it has relied on and what further options the resident has.
The evidence provided by the landlord to the resident, copied to the Ombudsman, should include details of the specification of the building, specifications of the works carried out, tests carried out, and contractor reports where commercial sensitivities do not apply.
If the landlord considers that further works and/or inspections / investigations are needed, it should specify what works are required and the purpose of further inspections / investigations and provide timeframes for completion.
- The landlord advises the resident in writing whether it considers it would be beneficial or not to change the location of the thermostat and / or install additional thermostats.
- The landlord confirms with the resident the status of the defects set out in the Stage 2 complaint response. If the landlord considers that sufficient remedial works have been taken in response to these issues, it should explain why it is taking that view and provide the evidence it has relied on and what further options the resident has. If the landlord considers that further inspections, investigations or works are needed, it should make arrangements for the defects to be addressed, if necessary by its own contractor.
- The Ombudsman orders that within the next six weeks, the landlord:
- Reviews the failings in complaint handling identified in this case including why the complaint was not investigated or responded to in an acceptable way, and:
i. Confirms to the Ombudsman whether action has already been taken to ensure these complaint handling failings are not repeated, and;
ii. If not, confirm to the Ombudsman what further action will be taken to reduce the risk of these failings happening again. This may include training staff and reviewing processes in line with the Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code.
- The Ombudsman recommends that the landlord reviews its record keeping practices in relation to the logging and remedying of defects in new build properties, considering the failings highlighted in this case. This is to ensure that accurate and accessible records are kept and maintained, both of works raised and completed and of contact with residents and the contractor.
- The Ombudsman recommends that the landlord engages with it in conducting a further investigation into issues relating to complaint handling.
- The landlord should write to the Ombudsman within the next four weeks confirming its intention with these recommendations.