We published a new Complaint Handling Code in July 2020, setting out good practice that will allow landlords to respond to complaints effectively and fairly.
Key areas in the Code
- Universal definition of a complaint
- Providing easy access to the complaints procedure and ensuring residents are aware of it, including their right to access the Housing Ombudsman Service
- The structure of the complaints procedure - only two stages necessary and clear timeframes set out for responses
- Ensuring fairness in complaint handling with a resident-focused process
- Taking action to put things right and appropriate remedies
- Creating a positive complaint handling culture through continuous learning and improvement
- Demonstrating learning in Annual Reports.
The Code is part of the Ombudsman’s new powers in the revised Housing Ombudsman Scheme.
Landlords will be asked to self-assess against the Code by 31 December 2020 and publish the results, but please note that these do not need to be submitted to the Ombudsman. Non-compliance could result in the Ombudsman issuing complaint handling failure orders. Guidance on these new orders has also been published and these will be implemented from 1 January 2021.
Operational staff - the Code supports excellent complaint handling and engagement with the Ombudsman. If the requirements of the Code cannot be delivered this should prompt discussion about what needs to change.
Chief executives and senior managers – the Code supports learning from complaints and promotes the open and transparent use of information to assess performance and risks.
Boards or equivalent governance - the Code supports culture setting and intelligence for assurance exercises, using complaint data alongside other management information on stock, services and customer feedback to provide insight into their organisation. It is important for governance to understand the complaints their organisations are receiving and the impact of their complaint handling on residents.
Residents - the Code will act as a guide for residents setting out what they can and should expect from their landlord when they complain. The requirements in the Code also provide residents with information about how to make a complaint and how to progress it through the landlord’s internal complaints procedure.