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Housing Ombudsman publishes complaint handing failure orders report for July to September 2022

In July 2020 the Housing Ombudsman published its new Complaint Handling Code.  Under the terms of the Code, where a landlord which is a member of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme fails to comply with the conditions of membership, the Ombudsman may determine that there has been a complaint handling failure and order the failure to be rectified within a given timescale.

The Code also commits the Ombudsman to publishing the total number of complaint handling failure orders (CHFOs) issued, the names of the landlords and the reasons for the CHFOs.  The Ombudsman has published its sixth such report covering the period from July to September 2022.

During the quarter the Ombudsman issued 45 CHFOs, just over double the number in the previous quarter, and the highest number issued in any quarter to date.  The CHFOs were issued:

  • Due to unreasonable delays in the landlord accepting or progressing a complaint through its process
  • Due to unreasonable delays in the landlord providing information requested by the Ombudsman or
  • Where a landlord failed to comply with its membership obligations.

There were 39 cases of compliance and six cases of non-compliance in the quarter.  The non-compliance cases related to:

  • A2 Dominion
  • Haringey Council
  • Lambeth Council
  • Manchester City Council
  • Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing and
  • Sheffield City Council.

The Ombudsman is formally investigating failures in respect of:

  • Aves Housing
  • Birmingham City Council
  • Harrow Council (two complaints)
  • Notting Hill Genesis (two complaints)
  • Orbit HA and
  • Wandle HA (two complaints).

In launching the report, Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway said “It is alarming to see complaint failures at this level. There’s a real risk that cost of living pressures result in more complaints so it is critical for landlords to get their communication and handling procedures right now.  This reinforces the need for landlords to reevaluate if their complaint teams have the necessary resources to do their jobs so they can deal with complaints effectively.  We recognise the financial pressures on landlords but it makes complaints and the learning from those complaints even more important to help maintain effective services”.