Is my landlord a member of your Scheme?
All housing associations and local authorities (councils) must be a member of our Scheme. We also have some private landlords that are voluntary members. We regularly update our list of members. You can check if your landlord is a member by clicking here. By law we only consider complaints about member landlords.
I’ve complained to my landlord but it hasn't done anything to help and I feel that I have wasted my time. What is the point of complaining?
Making a complaint can sometimes be frustrating but landlords need a chance to put things right and to learn from the complaints they receive from their residents. They can’t do that unless they know there is a problem. We encourage residents to contact their landlord as soon as they identify a problem. In addition the Scheme states that we cannot consider a complaint that hasn’t first been looked at by the landlord through its formal complaints process.
What should I do if my landlord does not respond to my formal complaint?
Sometimes things get lost in the post or go to the wrong department. It is always worth checking that you have sent the complaint to the right department or person and if necessary resend the complaint. If you still do not get a response you may want to contact a ‘designated person’ who could help you pursue the complaint and work with the landlord to put things right. You can find more information on designated persons here. Our role is to encourage and assist landlords and tenants to resolve a dispute at the earliest opportunity so you may still contact us to talk about your concerns and see if we can help in this way.
What kind of complaints can you look at?
We consider complaints about how a landlord has responded to reports of a problem and consider what is fair in all the circumstances of a particular case. We do not look at the original problem, for example we do not decide if there has been anti-social behaviour or if a property has damp. Rather, we look at whether a landlord dealt with the reported problem in line with the tenancy agreement or lease, and its own policies. There are also some complaints about local authorities (councils) that we cannot consider. For more information see the the fact sheet on our jurisdiction.
Can you make my complaint for me?
We are impartial so we cannot act for a complainant or a landlord. However, we can help landlords and tenants to communicate with each other and resolve the situation. We also maintain a list of other agencies such as Shelter or the local Citizens Advice that may be able to help. You can view this list by clicking here.
Can you make my landlord take immediate action regarding my concerns, e.g. outstanding repairs or antisocial behaviour?
No, that remains the landlord’s responsibility. However we have a number of fact sheets on subjects such as service charges, repairs etc that may help you with reporting a problem and identifying what you can expect from your landlord. See our fact sheets.
I’m considering taking my landlord to court; can I still bring my case to the Housing Ombudsman?
We are an alternative dispute resolution service, set up to help landlords and tenants resolve disputes without going to court. Under our Scheme we cannot consider cases that have already been to court. However, if you have not started legal action you may still contact us to talk about your concerns and see if we can help you resolve the matter.
My landlord is charging me too much - how can you help me?
We are not able to consider complaints about the level of rent and/or service charges. If you think you are being charged too much you may want to contact an advice agency such as Shelter. If you want to get a binding decision you will need to contact the First Tier Tribunal - Property Chamber (Residential Property).
Should I accept the compensation my landlord has offered?
This is your decision, we can’t tell you what to do – you may want to talk it through with someone you trust. It may help to know that compensation is not meant to be a punishment nor is it the same as damages that are awarded by a court. We only order compensation when we have found that there has been maladministration. The amount depends on the circumstances of the case and is usually for time and trouble bringing a complaint, or for distress and inconvenience experienced by the complainant. We do not order compensation for impact on health/medical issues.
For more information see our fact sheet on compensation.
How long will my case take?
We receive high volumes of cases and we aim to deal with these as quickly and efficiently as possible. In the first instance we provide support to landlords and residents to resolve the majority of disputes within the landlord’s complaints procedure. If your case is not fully resolved after this we may try to help you reach an agreement with your landlord or investigate. Our current average timescale for investigations is just under six months, but more complex cases may take longer and we complete 99% of cases within 12 months.
Can a group of residents (such as a residents’ association) bring a complaint to the Ombudsman?
The Ombudsman deals with complaints from individual tenants and leaseholders and is not able to accept complaints from groups of residents, collective representations or residents’ associations.
However, in some cases we may consider one resident’s complaint as a lead case for a wider group, where we are satisfied that the facts and circumstance are exactly the same. This means that any decisions we make for the lead case may also apply to other residents in the same circumstances. In these cases, we will ask for signed confirmation from the other residents to confirm that the lead case is authorised to represent them.
Which organisation regulates the social housing sector?
The Regulator of Social Housing (formerly known as the Homes and Communities Agency). Although we have different functions we have a Memorandum of Understanding which sets out how we work together. For more information see our page on Working with the regulator.
Which organisation regulates the Housing Ombudsman?
The Housing Ombudsman is independent of national or local government but we have a sponsoring government department, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).