Before we can formally investigate a complaint, eight weeks must have passed since the completion of a landlord’s internal complaints procedure, unless the complaint has been referred by a designated person.
We may first seek to resolve a complaint through the early resolution stage of our dispute resolution process. If this in unsuccessful, or if early resolution was not attempted (e.g. because of objections by the parties concerned or because the complaint was too complex) we have a duty to investigate the complaint.
How will you investigate my complaint?
The investigation will normally be conducted by an Adjudicator. Depending on what information has already been provided, the Adjudicator may request further evidence from both the complainant and the landlord. This will normally include:
- a copy of the lease or tenancy agreement
- relevant policies and procedure
- copies of complaints and response and other relevant correspondence
- telephone notes, surveys, reports and other records relevant to the case.
It is not within our authority to determine whether a landlord has broken the law. The purpose of our investigation is to assess whether a landlord responded appropriately to a given situation and to decide whether its actions were fair and reasonable, taking all the circumstances of the case into account.
Under the terms of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme we can make a finding of either no maladministration, service failure (a lower form of maladministration), maladministration, or severe maladministration.
What happens at the end of the investigation?
We will send a determination letter, which is normally accompanied by an investigation report, to the complainant and/or their representative, the landlord and any designated person involved. These documents will define the complaints under investigation, set out the background to the case, make reference to the evidence used in assessing the case and provide the reasons behind any findings and conclusions reached.
Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the determination letter may include a series of orders and recommendations to resolve the dispute. The landlord would be expected to follow any orders made within a specific timeframe.
How long will it take?
We receive a high volume of cases which we aim to deal with as quickly as possible. An investigation can be a long, complex process but we aim to complete 98% of cases within 12 months and to reach six months on average in 2018-19.
More detail on our approach to investigating complaints in accordance with the Housing Ombudsman Scheme is set out in our investigation guidance.