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Putting things right: new law for dealing with complaints

Published: 3 April 2024

The Housing Ombudsman is a free, independent and impartial organisation which aims to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords. They have introduced a Complaint Handling Code which became statutory from 1 April 2024, meaning that housing associations are now obliged by law to follow its requirements.

The code provides a set of standards for complaints that housing associations are required to comply with; ultimately to provide a better service to tenants. Every year, all housing associations need to let the Ombudsman know how they are performing against the code, together with our Tenant Satisfaction Measures. This is called a self-assessment, and we will use this to make sure we learn from customer feedback to improve our services. We are currently completing our self-assessment and we will share this on our website and social media channels when completed so that tenants are able to easily access it.

What’s happens now when I express dissatisfaction?

When you get in touch with to ask us to put something right, we will record and respond to this. The Ombudsman calls this a ‘service request’. These are not complaints - a complaint can only be made after the issue has been reported and SLH has been given an opportunity to respond.

If you are dissatisfied with our response to your request to put something right, then we will give you the choice to make a complaint, in line with our formal process.

If you decide not to make a formal complaint, then your dissatisfaction will be logged and passed to the relevant team to address your concerns with you.

Changes we are making to formal complaints

• SLH will now acknowledge formal complaints within five working days (previously two working days).
• Formal complaints will be responded to within 10 working days from the date of acknowledgement (previously from date we received the complaint).
• Complaints can be made regarding issues that occurred up to 12 months ago (previously six months ago). However, SLH will consider whether to apply discretion to accept complaints made outside this time limit where there are good reasons to do so.

Give us your feedback

We know we don’t get things right all the time, however, your feedback is what helps us get more things right, more of the time. Whether it’s a complaint when you feel things have gone wrong, a suggestion about how to improve our services or a compliment on a job well done, our aim is to learn in each case.

There are a number of ways you can give your feedback. Go to our customer feedback page to find out more

You said, we are doing

We listen to your feedback and always aim to learn how we can do things better as a result of what you told us. Here are some of things we have changed in the last year following your feedback:

You said
A customer was unhappy that they received conflicting communications given about whether they were on the yearly improvement programme or not. This includes improvements such as new kitchens, bathrooms, windows and boilers.

We are doing
All customer services colleagues at SLH and Avela Home Service now have full access to our improvements programme which will mean tenants will receive more accurate information when they enquire.

You said
A customer was unhappy with the process around their electrical check. The letter they received didn’t say which rooms in their home the contractor needed to access. They were also not happy with the tone of the letter.

We are doing
We have reviewed the letter and we will now clearly state which rooms we will need to access to carry out the electrical check in the letter. All letters sent to customers are currently being reviewed as part of a wider project, to make sure the tone of voice and language reflects our values and brand.

You said
A customer was frustrated that operatives attended to fix a leak to their toilet on three occasions, but the issue remained. They are frustrated that extensive remedial work now needs to be done, which could have been avoided if it was fixed on the first visit.

We are doing
There is now a new process in place for repeat leaks where customers will be contacted after 24 hours and 48 hours to ensure the issue has been resolved.

You said
A customer was frustrated that, following a surveyor visit to assess repairs in their home, they were not contacted until three months later to book the repairs in.

We are doing
The process for scheduling repair work has been reviewed and an automatic scheduling system is currently being developed. This will reduce the risk of errors occurring when we are booking repairs with customers after inspections.

More

Customer feedback

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