Housing ombudsman service reflects on 2018-19
Andrea Keenoy, interim housing ombudsman, reflects on her office’s performance and achievements over the past year.
It’s that time of year at the Housing Ombudsman Service where we reflect on our performance and achievements over the financial year just ended to finalise our Annual Report and Accounts.
For me, one thing really stands out and that is the 26 per cent increase in demand for formal determinations experienced in-year – the highest annual increase since 2013-14 when our remit expanded to cover local authorities.
For the complaints that enter our formal remit, we often find that poor communication and expectation management are key factors behind their escalation to us. Managing these better upfront will increase the likelihood of customer satisfaction with service delivery and complaint handling, as well as preserving the important landlord/tenant relationship.
To help landlords, we have a range of tools on our website – case studies, e-learning and the first in a new series of ‘spotlight on’ reports. These will share our learning from the complaints we have dealt with over the last 20 years and provide good practice points to help landlords improve their services and complaint handling.
We chose repairs as the first topic as this is consistently the biggest category of complaint we deal with, accounting for around one third of all complaints each year, and where some small changes could have a big impact. The report, called Room for improvement: Spotlight on repairs, identifies the main causes of complaints to us about repairs. These are new lettings, responsibility for the repair, the time taken to carry out repairs and record keeping. We’ve included case studies to illustrate each of these causes and set out good practice to avoid the pitfalls, based around our dispute resolution principles.
I would welcome any feedback or suggestions for future topics – providing faster, effective redress to residents is something we are all interested in and should work together to make a reality.
And finally, a quick plug for some other things to look out for:
- we will shortly be adding some videos to our website to help residents navigate complaints procedures and you may find these useful reference tools
- our Annual Report and Accounts will be published by 30 June with an update on our performance in 2018-19.
And, if you want to stay up-to-date with all our latest developments, you can sign up for our quarterly e-newsletter via the landlords section of our website.