Treat people fairly
Here are some of the basic requirements for treating people fairly:
- Everyone is entitled to receive the same standard of service regardless of their background, appearance, age, beliefs or lifestyle.
- Be aware of the effects of bias and prejudice on decision making.
- Ensure the focus is on the individual, taking into account the person and their circumstances.
- Be flexible in application of policy, practice and process to ensure that individual needs are taken into account.
- Be consistent when dealing with an individual person and when dealing with other tenants or complaints.
- Be clear where responsibility lies for any action, including resolving the dispute.
- Progress a complaint to escalate to the next stage unless there is a good reason not to.
- Give everyone involved in the complaint the chance to explain their point of view.
- Respect privacy and keep confidentiality
- Sometimes people behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable. While that can justify changes to standard procedures people must still be treated fairly
How is ‘treating people fairly’ relevant?
- We expect landlords to treat all tenants fairly.
- It underpins and increases trust in the landlord and tenant relationship.
- Landlords are entitled to balance the needs of individual tenants with the needs of other tenants and employees.
- Tenants can expect to be treated fairly when they raise a complaint.
- Scrutiny and tenant panels can hold their landlord to account for the way it treats tenants. They should also ensure that they treat both the landlord and the tenant fairly when considering complaints.
- Tenants need to be aware that their landlord is entitled to manage their expectations and that if their behaviour is considered unreasonable, their landlord is entitled to treat them differently when handling their complaints.
- Designated persons should treat both the tenant and the landlord fairly when they consider complaints.
- Designated persons can have regard to the way in which a landlord treats the tenant when they consider a complaint. They may also consider whether the complainant has reasonable expectations, and whether they have pursued their complaint in a reasonable way.
Follow fair process
Here are some of the signs that a complaint handling process is fair:
- It is well-publicised, giving clear information about the process to be followed, what it can deliver and the complaints that can be considered.
- It is focused on the tenant and with clear commitments to privacy and confidentiality.
- Any steps or stages to the process are for escalation of accountability or to provide genuine review of the complaint – rather than to prolong the process or defer decision making.
- Provision for flexibility to deal with a complaint differently, (for example to accommodate a tenants individual circumstances or behaviour) if that might produce a fairer outcome.
- If tenants’ behaviour is unreasonable a landlord can have a process that allows it to manage that behaviour.
- Clear information about the tenant’s right to challenge decisions made during the process.
- Clear and realistic timescales to encourage prompt complaint management and manage tenant expectations of how long things will take.
- Opportunities to make a complaint in different ways that are convenient or accessible to the tenant, for example in person, in writing or other methods. Where possible offering help to access the process if it is needed.
- Decisions are based on evidence and the facts of particular case so they are free from bias and impartial.
- All decisions, including the final outcome are clear, setting out reasons for the decision/s and any further action to be taken.
- The process complies with the law and any regulatory requirements.
Why is ‘fair process’ relevant?
- We expect all landlords to have and follow a fair process for handling complaints. It is clear to staff and tenants what they can expect of the process.
- Can expect their landlords to have and follow a fair process in considering their complaint.
- Scrutiny and tenant panels can consider the fairness of the process as part of their review of the landlord’s handling of a dispute.
- Can consider whether or not the landlord had (and followed) a fair complaint process when considering a complaint.
- We encourage designated persons to consider how following a fair process can make their own consideration of complaints more effective.