Our new statutory Complaint Handling Code comes into effect from 1 April 2024 - find more information online.

Spotlight on: Landlords’ engagement with private freeholders and managing agents

Published in March 2022

Report summary

This report draws on several real-life experiences, but a single resident’s story forms its backbone. It involves the loss of heating and hot water during more than a year and provides several, powerful lessons for landlords who want to ensure an effective response when a managing agent is involved. 

This report also focuses on landlord engagement with third party freeholders and managing agents who sit outside of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme. Of course, social landlords may appoint or act as an agent themselves. It would be an illusion to conclude there are not issues here, as demonstrated by a severe maladministration decision where a vulnerable resident was placed in unsuitable temporary accommodation. While this aspect of landlords’ activities is outside the scope of this report, some of its lessons may be transferable. 

Our approach

In this report the Ombudsman explored: 

  • Whether landlords are put, by themselves or others, in a weaker position when it comes to complaint resolution, service quality and discharging their statutory and contractual obligations through reduced autonomy or control. 
  • The degree of clarity that landlords, third party freeholders and managing agents, and residents have on their roles and responsibilities when dealing with service issues and complaints. 
  • Whether, in properties where their landlords needed to engage with third party freeholders and managing agents, residents are at an increased risk of receiving a lower standard of service. 
  • How landlords have navigated the additional complexity of engaging with third party freeholders and managing agents and how that contributes to findings of maladministration. 

The full report

View and download the report pdf

View more Spotlight reports

People figures with comment clouds above their heads. Social communication. Information exchange. Rumors and gossip. Talk and chat. Discussion and dialogue. Public opinion poll. Dispute settling

Spotlight on attitudes, respect and rights

We have released our latest Spotlight report on attitudes, respect and right - relationship of equals, calling for a Royal Commission to create a long-term plan for social housing after finding that current approaches for the sector are not working for residents with a vulnerability.

View the full report
hands moving cogs into place

Spotlight on: Knowledge and Information Management

This report reveals how landlord’s services can be held back by weaknesses in data and information, that can turn an ordinary service request into an extraordinarily protracted complaint.

View the full report
external view looking up at a block of flats

Spotlight on: Dealing with cladding complaints

Following on from publishing guidance setting out our approach for considering what is fair in all the circumstances on cladding-related disputes, this report builds on the Ombudsman’s approach.

View the full report