Housing Complaints Procedure
The Council has a Complaints Policy specifically for our tenants and leaseholders to use to make complaints about the Council, in our capacity as a landlord.
This has been introduced to meet the requirements of the Housing Ombudsman’s revised Complaint Handling Code, which came into force on 1 April 2022.
The Housing Ombudsman Service (the Ombudsman) is set up by law to look at complaints about housing organisations that are registered with them. The Ombudsman resolve disputes involving tenants and leaseholders of social landlords (housing associations and local authorities) and voluntary members (private landlords and letting agents). The Council is a registered member.
The purpose of their code is to help landlords resolve complaints raised by their residents quickly and to use the learning from complaints to drive service improvements.
Accompanying the revised Code is a requirement for landlords to carry out an annual self-assessment of their complaint processes against the Code and to publish the findings.
What is a complaint?
A complaint is defined as:
“An expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, actions or lack of action by the Council, in its capacity as a landlord, its own staff, or those acting on its behalf, affecting an individual resident or group of residents.”
You do not have to use the word complaint for it to be treated as one and a complaint that is submitted via a third party or representative will also be handled in line with our policy.
What does our policy cover?
Our policy covers complaints made about the Council, as a landlord, and in relation to our provision and management of housing.
A complaint may be about:
- a failure to provide accurate information;
- delays in decision making;
- dissatisfaction with a decision;
- delays in providing services;
- failure to deliver services; or
- the appropriateness of services.
The above list does not cover everything but gives an indication of the type of things that complaints may be about.
What does our policy not cover?
We will always accept a complaint unless we have a valid reason not to do so.
However, some things are not covered by our policy because they are covered by another policy or procedure or are outside the Council’s control. Examples include:
- requests for a service (for example, the first time you ring to request a repair);
- complaints about the actions of a third party (for example, a noisy neighbour);
- matters where there is a separate means of resolution (for example, a Tribunal or appeals route);
- matters dealt with under the Council's Employment Procedures;
- insurance claims against the Council;
- requests for information;
- corporate complaints (complaints about any other Council service – these are dealt with under the Corporate Complaints Procedure);
If we decide not to accept a complaint, we will provide you with a detailed explanation of why it not considered to be suitable for handling under this policy. We will also advise you of your right to take this decision to the Housing Ombudsman.
Who can make a complaint?
A complaint can be made by:
- anyone who is or has been in a residential landlord/tenant relationship with the Council. This includes Council tenants and former tenants, leaseholders and shared owners. If the complaint is made by an ex-occupier they must have had a legal relationship with the Council at the time that the matter complained of arose;
- a representative of any of the people above who has that person’s consent to make a complaint on their behalf;
- a representative of any of the people above who does not have the capacity to give their consent to someone to act on their behalf. However, in these circumstances, we must be satisfied that the representative has the legitimate authority to act on the person’s behalf; or
- a person with the legal capacity to make a complaint on behalf of any of the people above who is deceased.
If you complain to us but feel that you can’t give us your name, we will not be able to deal with this under our complaints procedure. However, we will take appropriate steps to deal with the issue you have told us about.
How to make a complaint?
You can make a complaint to us in any of the following ways:
- by filling in our Complaints form, which is available on our website and on request from any member of staff;
- by emailing email@example.com
- by phoning 01255 686868 or the direct number of the team you have been dealing with; or
- by visiting our Reception at Pier Avenue in Clacton, which is open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10am to 1pm
How will your complaint be handled?
If we have failed to provide a service to you or if you are dissatisfied with the service that you have received, then please let us know. In most cases, we hope that the member of staff you have been dealing with will be able to resolve your issue.
Where this is not possible, we will use this formal procedure to fully consider your complaint.
If your issue is not something we can resolve straightaway as part of our day to day business, we will usually deal with it as a Stage 1 complaint and try to resolve it within the service you are complaining about.
We will send you an acknowledgement of your complaint within 5 working days of us receiving it. This will set out our understanding of your complaint and tell you who will be investigating your complaint and when you can expect a full response.
You should then receive a thorough response to your complaint within 10 working days of us receiving it. If this is not going to possible, we will contact you to explain why this is and will also give you a date by which you should receive a response. This will not normally exceed a further 10 working days unless there are exceptional circumstances.
If you are unhappy with the initial response you have received to your complaint, you should contact us and ask for your complaint to be escalated to Stage Two. We will remind you that you can do this when we send you our thorough response under Stage One. We will also advise you of your right to access the Housing Ombudsman Service.
We will send you an acknowledgement of your Stage Two complaint within 5 working days of us receiving it.
We will then appoint an Investigating Officer to look into your complaint and this will normally be someone outside of the department or team that you are complaining about to make sure that their investigation is independent and objective. It will not be the same person that investigated your complaint under stage one
The Investigating Officer will contact you with a thorough response within 20 working days from us receiving your request to escalate your complaint. If this is not possible an explanation and a date when the stage two response will be sent to you. The revised response date should not exceed a further 10 working days without good reason. We will also advise you of your right to access the Housing Ombudsman Service.
There may be circumstances, under both stages of our Complaints Procedure, where we need to extend the timescale for response – for example where people are unavailable due to sickness absence. However, this will be the exception and not the rule and we will always agree with you if it is necessary to extend the timescale.
If an extended timescale cannot be agreed, we will provide the Housing Ombudsman’s contact details so that you can challenge the timeliness of our response.
The Housing Ombudsman Service is the final stage of the complaints process and they will consider whether your complaint comes within their jurisdiction, investigate as appropriate and come to a decision on your complaint.
The Housing Ombudsman Service can also provide advice and support throughout the life of a complaint and we will advise you of this as part of our complaints handling and response.
You can find out more about the Housing Ombudsman by visiting their website