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Ombudsman issues complaint handling learning in latest report

The Ombudsman has released its latest Complaint Handling Failure Order report, sharing learning where it has seen poor complaint handling.
Richard Blakeway (002)

There was a significant reduction in the number oforders issued in this quarter compared to the previous one, with 25 landlords that had an order in the last period not receiving any this time.  This shows how the orders can be effective to help landlords target areas for improvement.

However, 8 landlords did receive orders in both periods and the report includes case examples to support improvement, including compliance with the orders.

Ahead of the Complaint Handling Code becoming statutory on 1 April 2024, the Ombudsman has shared key lessons from the past quarter, for example on accepting complaints, agreeing extensions, and providing evidence.

As of 1 April 2024, all landlords will have to adhere to the new provisions in the Code. Whilst there are minimal changes for the landlords who are already compliant, the Ombudsman is urging all landlords to be reviewing the new Code in readiness and ensuring self-assessments, are submitting on time.

The report provides insights into how landlords can ensure that not only is their policy compliant with the Code, but it is consistently delivered in practice.

On the back of this report, the Ombudsman has written to the landlords with more than one non-complaint CHFO.

The landlords that did not comply with its orders are:

Adullam Homes
Barking and Dagenham Council
Ealing Council
Lambeth Council
Lewisham Council
Luton Community Housing
Metropolitan Thames Valley
Sandwell Council
Westminster City Council

The Ombudsman also engaged with 27 landlords to help ensure their complaints policy was compliant with the Code, following issues seen in complaints. This is the most in any quarter.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “Most of these orders are made while the complaint is live the landlord’s procedure, revealing issues that occurred in the last three months. We only issue a handful compared to the thousands of cases we handle and after much intervention with the landlord.

“These orders help landlords to identify where action is necessary to improve complaint handling, and with most landlords this appears to be successful. Ultimately, this helps complaints to be resolved earlier by the landlord itself, which is essential given the continued rise in complaints.

“As the Complaint Handling Code becomes statutory in less than two weeks’ time, we are urging landlords to read this report, and its predecessors, to ensure that complaint handling compliance is seen in practice as well as policy.

“This will form a key part of our Duty to Monitor work, where we will not just take the landlord’s word in their self-assessment if our casework is saying otherwise.

“It is vital landlords assess their complaints procedure as the Code becomes statutory. This also means ensuring its complaints team has the resources and leverage within the landlord to do its job and to ensure there is fairness for residents when making a complaint.”

You can read the full report here.

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