Draft Housing Complaints Policy (where the council is your housing landlord)

Statement of Intent: reference to “the council” in this policy shall be deemed to apply to City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council and, where applicable, its housing management agents where the council acts as a social housing landlord and Registered Provider.

1.0 Policy Statement

1.1 This policy sets out the council’s approach as a landlord to dealing with complaints from our tenants in our council homes (houses and flats).

  • We understand that good housing is an important element for stability and living well.
  • Our aim is to provide good quality services to all our customers, but we recognise that on occasions things can go wrong.
  • When customers are dissatisfied we will receive complaints in a positive way.
  • We will make the process accessible to everyone and easy to follow.
  • We will respond to complaints in a timely manner and be fair and consistent in our decision making.
  • We are committed to using customer feedback to make service improvements.

2.0 Definition of a complaint

2.1 A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction however made about the standard of service, actions or lack of action by the organisation, its own staff, or those acting on its behalf, affecting an individual resident or group of residents.

We define residents as anyone who lives in one of our homes (houses or flats); the list below clarifies what we will treat as a complaint and what we will treat as a request for service or feedback:

Examples of what we will treat as a complaint, (these will be recorded and require a response)

  • Failure to provide a service or achieve the standards of service we have promised
  • Failure to fulfil our legal or contractual obligations
  • Unfair treatment by staff or those acting on behalf of the council
  • Unacceptable delay or failure to respond to an enquiry or request
  • Dissatisfaction with a decision or the way that it was made
  • Dissatisfaction with the attitude of staff, contractors or agents
  • The council or its Managing Agents not applying policies and operating procedures fairly

Examples of what we will treat as feedback, (these will be recorded and used in a service review)

  • Disagreement with a policy or procedure
  • Disagreement with a service standard

Examples of what we will treat as a service request, (these will be recorded and actioned)

  • An initial report of a repair
  • A report of anti-social behaviour
  • A request for information

3.0 Limitations and Exceptions of the complaint procedure

3.1.1 We will only consider complaints which are presented within 6 months of the matter arising unless there are exceptional circumstances. Where a complaint has already been considered, complaints may be re-opened within a 6-month period on presentation of new evidence or information.

3.1.2 Where the Council have been unable to deliver a service due to circumstances beyond our control the Council may use discretion to limit access through the complaint procedure.

3.1.3 If the complaint is not regarding social housing or a landlord relationship, the Council may use their discretion to limit access through the complaint procedure; however, the complaint may still be investigated and responded to by an appropriate level of officer.

3.1.4 The Council may use their discretion to limit access through the complaint procedure where the behaviour of a complainant is unacceptable and will apply the Policy on ‘Dealing with Abusive, Persistent or Vexatious Complainants’.

3.1.5 Complaints which have entered the legal process such as court action or disrepair claims where a solicitor has been instructed are excluded from the complaint procedure.

4.0 Aims and Objectives

The council in its position as a housing landlord is a member of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme and we follow their dispute resolution principles of:

4.1. Being Fair

We aim to ensure that all complaints will be handled fairly being consistent in our approach, considering the facts of each case, the individuals’ circumstances and listening openly without bias or prejudice regardless of background, appearance, age, beliefs or lifestyle.

4.1.1 We aim to provide customers, including the most vulnerable, with the support they

need to access the complaints service and ensure that they have the confidence to report their concerns if our services fall below standards.

4.1.2 Activities involved in providing services to customers involve the collection and storage of significant amounts of personal data, including sensitive personal data. The Council is committed to ensuring that it stores and processes such data in accordance with data protection legislation.

4.2. Putting things right

Our focus will be to understand if something has gone wrong, be open and honest about responsibility, consider the outcome we can deliver to restore the complainants position.

Where this cannot be done, the Council may use the Compensation Policy to offer redress; offering redress will also include offering an apology and rebuilding of the landlord tenant relationship.

4.3 Learning from outcomes

We are committed to making sure we let customers know we have been listening to their feedback and we will let individuals know what changes have been made to services or procedures as a result of their complaint. We will share learning from all complaints with our wider customer base and through tenant panels.

Where we have been unable to make suggested changes, we will give an explanation why.

5.0 Complaint Handling

5.1 The Council empowers staff to be open to receiving complaints by:

5.1.1 Ensuring all staff are trained and equipped to receive and record complaints.

5.1.2 Ensuring complaints from a group are handled appropriately.

5.1.3 Not placing a restriction on the methods that can be used to make a complaint. We will accept complaints by telephone, email, in person, in writing, or via an online form on our website.

5.1.4 Accepting complaints from people acting on behalf of complainants with their permission/authorisation including advice workers, councillors, MP’s, friends, relatives and recognised tenant panels.

6.0 Complaint Timescales

6.1.1 Complaints will be acknowledged within 2 working days with information provided about who is dealing with the complaint, and their job title.

6.1.2 We will aim to respond within 10 working days with the decision and outcome. We will keep customers informed if there are any anticipated delays meaning we are unable to meet this timescale.

6.1.3 We will let the complainant know the timescale for how long any offer of redress will remain open; usually a maximum of 6 months

6.1.4 Where we have been unable to contact the complainant we will send a letter setting out the timescale for contact before closing the complaint.

7.0 Complaint Stages

7.1 The Council operates a 2 stage housing complaints procedure. We will let customers know what stage their complaint is being considered and who is dealing with the matter. All complaints will be investigated by an officer with the best knowledge and skills to deal with the issues raised.

Stage 1 - New complaint not previously reported

  1. We will acknowledge within 2 working days
  2. If we need further information we will contact you
  3. We will send a response within 10 working days where this is not possible we will agree timescales with you or 24 hours if there is a risk to life

Stage 2 - Dissatisfied with stage 1 response

  1. We will acknowledge within 2 working days
  2. If we need further information we will contact you
  3. We will aim to offer a resolution within 20 working days where this is not possible we will agree timescales with you

Housing Ombudsman - Dissatisfied with stage 2 response

You can contact the Housing Ombudsman Service:

Post: PO Box 152, Liverpool, L33 7WQ

Telephone: 0300 111 3000

Email: info@housing-ombudsman.org.uk

Website: www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk/residents/

7.1.1 Stage 1

7.1.2 Stage 1 is a new complaint that has not been raised previously by the customer. This is where the most effort is made in order to ensure we understand  the position at an early opportunity and what customers are seeking as an outcome. Our aim is to resolve complaints at first point of contact wherever possible.

7.1.3 A full or interim response will be relayed to the customer by their preferred method of contact. Follow up written communication confirming the outcome will be sent to the complainant in all circumstances unless the complaint has been resolved at first contact and the customer has confirmed their agreement.

7.1.4 Written communication may include digital communication such as an email or text.

7.1.5 We will let customers know what they can do if they remain dissatisfied with the decision or outcome.

7.2 Stage 2

7.2.1 If the complainant remains dissatisfied, they are entitled to request an escalation of their complaint to stage 2. To enable the Council to consider a complaint at stage 2, we will require information from the complainant to understand why they remain dissatisfied,, what remains unresolved and what they are hoping for as an outcome.

Whilst a complainant can request to escalate their complaint to stage 2, it is ultimately the decision of the Council to accept this request, particularly if there are no sufficient grounds to further investigate. In such circumstance, the complainant will be advised of this decision.

7.2.2 We will aim to remove barriers for escalating the complaint to the next stage but may limit access if we have delivered the expected outcome and there is nothing further to be considered. In such circumstances, the Complainant will be appropriately signposted to the Housing Ombudsman.

7.2.3 We will appoint an officer with no previous involvement to consider where any issues remain outstanding for the complainant and to review the decisions made at stage 1.

7.2.4 A letter will be sent out setting out the Council final decision and what are the next steps for the complainant.

8.0 Housing Ombudsman

8.1 A complaint can be made to the Housing Ombudsman Service who may work with us to resolve the dispute under their early resolution procedure or carry out an investigation if they decide an investigation is proportionate to the circumstances of the complaint.

9.0 Performance Reporting

9.1.1 We will monitor the progress of individual service complaints and service failures as an ongoing operational process at management team meetings.

9.1.2 Learning from complaints and service failure will form part of our regular reporting into the appropriate Scrutiny Committee.

10 Best Practice and Review

10.1 This policy has been developed with regard to examples of best practice and guidance. There will be an automatic review of this policy whenever there is a change of statutory or regulatory provisions or when other Best Practice information becomes available that will impact on the policy. In any event there will be a substantive review of this policy every three years.

Related documents

Dealing with Abusive, Persistent or Vexatious Complainants