How to make a complaint about a housing association

Typically the way to make a complaint about your housing issue is via your housing association’s website. Further down this page, you should be able to find a link to your housing association’s complaints page.

Please ensure that when you make your initial complaint, you highlight that you would like to open a formal stage one complaint about the issue you are experiencing, such as disrepair, unattended repairs, poor completed repairs, or unsatisfactory service (inaction on issues you’ve raised, delayed action ).

 It is important that when you make your complaint you use the specific language of it being a formal stage one complaint, as otherwise your contact may not be treated as a formal stage one complaint, and you may have to submit another in order for it to be considered in this way. You should also ask for them to confirm receipt of your complaint, this way you will know that it has been received by your housing association.

Internal complaints (stage one and stage two)

At stage one, your complaint will be handled by your housing officer. Once your complaint has been considered, you should receive a formal written response. You should receive this within 10 working days, but this may be extended if your landlord needs more time to gather further information.

If you need your response in a different language or format, you can ask your landlord for this.

Once you have received your stage one response in writing, if you are unhappy with the outcome then you can escalate your complaint to a stage two complaint. In your stage one complaint response, it should provide you with information as to how to do this.

In general it is good to escalate your complaint as soon as you get the response – if you disagree with it – as there are time limits on when an escalated complaint might be accepted. When you escalate your complaint, please make sure you state that you would like to formally escalate your complaint to be considered as a stage two complaint. When you do this, you should also set out why you disagree you’re your landlord’s decision and explain what you would like to happen.

At any point in the complaints process, you can also contact the Housing Ombudsman for independent advice around your complaint.

In addition, if you are still unhappy with the outcome of your stage two complaint, and you have exhausted your landlord’s internal complaints procedure, you can contact the Housing Ombudsman in order to ask them to conduct further investigation in to your complaint.

Please note that in order to complain directly to the Housing Ombudsman, 8 weeks must have passed since you received the final decision from your landlord. You will find further information about how to do this and what to expect below. If you do not want to wait 8 weeks to submit your complaint, Apsana Begum MP is able to make a direct referral to the Housing Ombudsman at any time.

Escalating your complaint to the Ombudsman

In order to escalate your complaint to the Ombudsman, following 8 weeks from the final decision from your landlord, you can register your complaint online here: https://www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk/residents/make-a-complaint/

You will need to complete the complaint form and be able to provide a copy of the final decision from your landlord.

The Ombudsman will deal with each complaint to find the best outcome for your individual circumstances. Once they receive your complaint they may:

  • Refer the case to a different organisation if it is an issue they cannot make a decision about because it is not in their jurisdiction.
  • Work with you and your landlord to resolve the dispute under their early resolution procedure. For example we can use our experience of resolving complaints to make suggestions to the landlord and/or the resident if we believe there is a way to resolve the complaint.
  • Carry out an investigation; they only do this for those complaints where they decide an investigation is proportionate to the circumstances and evidence before them, for example complex complaints involving many issues.

Who can complain

Anyone who is, or has been, in a landlord/tenant relationship with a registered provider of social housing in England can make a complaint to the HOS. This includes people who have, or have had:

  • a lease
  • a tenancy
  • a licence to occupy
  • a service agreement, or
  • any other arrangement to occupy premises owned or managed by the provider.

Representatives of any of the above can make a complaint on their behalf.

Ombudsman decisions

The HOS may decide to:

  • reject the complaint
  • recommend that the landlord follows a course of action, such as apologise to the complainant, pay compensation, carry out (or not carry out) works, or to take any other reasonable step to secure redress.

The HOS expects landlords to comply with its determinations, and may require evidence to demonstrate compliance. Where a landlord fails to comply with a recommendation, the HOS may make an enforceable order requiring its decision to be followed.

Types of complaints the Housing Ombudsman will consider

The HOS can consider the following types of complaints:

Occupancy rights

This includes complaints about:

  • terms and conditions of a tenancy
  • succession and assignment
  • ending a tenancy (eg notice periods)
  • abandonment of property
  • possession proceedings.

Moving to a property

This includes complaints about:

  • transfer applications that fall outside the statutory regime (complaints about allocations and transfers under Part 6 of the Housing Act 1996 fall under the LGO’s jurisdiction)
  • type of tenancy offered
  • mutual exchange
  • decision whether to renew a fixed-term tenancy
  • decants
  • mobility schemes.

Condition of property

This includes complaints about:

  • condition of the property when first let
  • repairs
  • planned maintenance
  • improvement works carried out by landlord or tenant
  • disabled adaptations.

Tenants’ behaviour

This includes complaints about:

  • antisocial behaviour
  • noise nuisance
  • harassment.

Estate management

This includes complaints about:

  • maintenance of communal areas
  • use of communal areas
  • boundary issues
  • maintenance of grounds
  • parking.

Landlords’ complaint handling

This includes complaints about the handling of a complaint under then landlord’s complaints procedure, including delays.

Compensation

These include complaints about:

  • home loss payments
  • disturbance payments
  • compensation for improvements carried out by the tenant/occupier
  • payment for damage to property or tenant’s belongings
  • discretionary payments or ‘goodwill gestures’ under the landlord’s compensation policy.

Leasehold services

These include complaints about:

  • shared ownership
  • sales processes for leasehold properties owned by housing associations
  • right to buy and right to acquire for tenants of housing associations only (complaints about the right to buy for local authority tenants fall under the LGO’s jurisdiction)
  • repair responsibilities under the lease
  • mortgage rescue schemes
  • leasehold services provided by the landlord.