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Sector to learn from complaint handling failures ahead of incoming statutory Code

The Housing Ombudsman has extended its complaint handling report as it looks to reduce the number of repeated mistakes.
Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway

It comes as the Complaint Handling Code becomes statutory in 2024, with landlords expected to comply with the provisions of the Code and the Ombudsman will be assessing this as part of its mandated duty to monitor. This will include reviewing not only to what extent landlord’s published approach is in line with the Code, but how this is being delivered.

This quarters Complaint Handling Failure Order report shows that from January to March 2023, the Ombudsman issued 40 Complaint Handling Failure Orders for 32 landlords. 12 of those were not complied with and further action was taken.

In addition to these usual statistics, the Ombudsman has added its key learning from the quarter into this report, which includes delays in processing incoming calls and emails, poor communication with residents and complaints teams struggling with the volume of work.

It also highlighted the intervention work carried out before a Complaint Handling Failure Order is issued. This will help landlords spot the signs of non-compliance early and fix issues.

And, for the first time, where a landlord has been named as non-compliant, the Ombudsman has stated the reason for this, another way of helping the sector avoid these orders in the future.

The Ombudsman has also produced figures for 2022-23 to show how many Complaint Handling Failure Orders were issued and which landlords received the most. It found a 77% compliance rate with its orders and 18 landlords with more orders than the rest.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “Our Complaint Handling Failure Orders report provides real time intelligence on how landlords complaints process is working and a roundup of where we see landlords struggling with the Complaint Handling Code or their complaints duties.

“This year we’ve seen a real development in using these orders to ensure that a landlord is not only compliant with the Code, but that they are providing the best possible service to residents.

“Before issuing a Complaint Handling Failure Orders, the Ombudsman is keen to work with landlords when an issue is raised to see if the organisation can comply with the Code before an order is needed – this work is also now highlighted in this report.

“With the Code becoming statutory as part of the Social Housing Regulation Bill, it is an important moment for landlords to absorb this learning.”

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