Our jurisdiction

This fact sheet is aimed at residents who are thinking about bringing a complaint to the Housing Ombudsman so that they can check whether their complaint can be considered.

What we can and cannot consider is called the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. This is governed by the Housing Ombudsman Scheme.

We assess all complaints to us against a set of rules – these are the non-discretionary decisions. Some complaints are always out of the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. For example we cannot consider complaints where:

  • the landlord is not a member of the Scheme
  • or the complainant does not have a landlord/tenant relationship, including leaseholders and other residents with agreements to occupy premises, with a member landlord.

Once we have made this decision we may or may not be able to consider the complaint depending on the Ombudsman’s opinion on the complaint that is made to us – these are discretionary decisions. For example we may not be able to consider complaints:

  • that are made prior to having exhausted the landlord’s complaints procedure
  • that involve problems with the level of service charges
  • where either party has started legal action
  • where the landlord’s time limits were not complied with.

More examples of these types of decisions are included in paragraph 23 of the Scheme but it is important to remember these are not checklists or rules and each complaint is considered on the facts of the individual case.

Lastly, some complaints from local authority tenants are within the jurisdiction of the Housing Ombudsman, and others are the responsibility of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO). Occasionally a complaint may be considered by both Ombudsman schemes. See our factsheet for more information on these complaints.