The new Complaint Handling Code
The Complaint Handling Code will become statutory from 1 April 2024, meaning that landlords will be obliged by law to follow its requirements. The Code aims to achieve best practice in complaint handling and ultimately to provide a better service to residents.
On this page you will find the new Code, the response to the consultation we ran during the latter part of 2023, as well as guidance documents and materials relating to the new provisions. Whilst not much has changed, landlords should be aware of the Code. We are also holding workshops for landlords which you can find dates below.
For residents, we will soon be producing an expectations document for you to understand what you should be seeing from your landlord on complaint handling.
Please note, the new Code does not impact your ability to bring your complaint to us and does not impact any complaints that are currently being investigated or have been lodged.
Key areas in the code
Key areas of the Code include:
- 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 complaint's procedure - only 2 stages necessary and clear times 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
- annual self-assessment against the Code
There will be a legal duty placed on the Ombudsman to monitor compliance with the Code, regardless of whether it receives individual complaints from residents about a landlord. For the first time, this means landlords will need to submit their self-assessment annually to the Ombudsman at the same time as their Tenant Satisfaction Measures (TSMs).
For landlords with over 1,000 homes this will be 30th June 2024. Those with under 1,000 homes will submit either 12 weeks after their financial year-end or the date of publication of TSMs on their website.
The self-assessment must also must be published on their websites so that residents are able to easily access it.
Duty to monitor
The Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023, places a duty on the Housing Ombudsman to monitor compliance with the statutory Complaint Handling Code. This means that the Housing Ombudsman is required to ensure that all landlords meet the standards set out in the Code for complaint handling, regardless of their size and operating model.
The duty allows the Ombudsman to assess landlords even where no complaints have been referred to us for investigation. This will support us to extend fairness across the sector by ensuring that residents receive a quality complaint handling service, regardless of who their landlord is, or what they are complaining about. Where we identify any concerns with a landlord’s compliance with the Code, we will engage with them to bring them back into compliance promptly. If there is evidence of ongoing failures in compliance, we will consider using our wider powers including Complaint Handling Failure Orders. We will also use our work to monitor compliance with the Code to identify and share examples of good practice in complaints handling. These will be published via our Centre for Learning.
Queries relating to the code
If you have any queries relating to the the new Complaint Handling Code 2024 or our duty to monitor, please email email@example.com.
Statutory Code webinars
We are running the following Statutory Code webinars to answer your questions about the new code.
You will be able to book onto a session for your landlord type via the Learning Hub from Monday 12 February.
Local Authority and ALMO
Date: 21 February 2024
Housing Associations with over 1000 homes
Date: 7 March 2024
Date: 20 March 2024
Small landlords and Abbeyfields
Date: 4 April 2024
Type 1 and 2 Complaint Handling Failure Order (CHFO) Guidance
The purpose of Type 1 and Type 2 complaint handling failure orders (CHFOs) is to ensure that a landlord’s complaint handling process is accessible, consistent and enables the timely progression of complaints for residents, in line with the Housing Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code.
Type 3 Complaint Handling Failure Order (CHFO) Guidance
The purpose of Type 3 complaint handling failure orders (‘CHFOs’) is to ensure that landlords comply with the statutory Complaint Handling Code (‘the Code’).
Complaint Handling Code changes reference guide
Easy reference guide
This document sets out the changes made to the Code 2022 through consultation in autumn 2023.
For ease of reference, each provision of the Code 2022 has been included, along with the updated provision number and wording (where applicable). We have included our reasons for the change where required.
This easy reference guide does not detail the full Statutory Code, rather it sets out how the Code 2022 has been amended.
Complaint handling key topic page
The Complaint Handling Code becomes statutory in April 2024, and it has never been more important to understand what good complaint handling is.
Find a range of learning materials on complaint handling on this key topic page.
New Code timescales for complaints
Landlords have to provide a two-stage complaints process as part of the new Code.
A landlord must acknowledge a complaint at stage 1 of its process within 5 working days and supply a written response within 10 working days from the date of acknowledgment.
If you are still dissatisfied after you receive a stage 1 response, you can request to progress your complaint to the final stage (stage 2). A landlord must acknowledge a stage 2 complaint within 5 working days and supply a written response within 20 working days.