Date approved: March 2023
Review date: April 2024
See below for the full policy, but please be aware this may include acronyms or technical jargon used internally within Raven. If you have any questions, please contact us.
1. Scope of Policy
1.1. This policy sets out the approach Raven Housing Trust will take to managing complaints.
1.2. This policy applies to all customers of Raven Housing Trust. We define customer as a tenant, leaseholder, anyone applying for a Raven home, and any person, agency, partner, or organisation seeking information from us or affected by our services.
2. Aims and Objectives of Policy
2.1. Raven is committed to providing a high-quality service for its customers and treating all customers fairly. We recognise that on occasions things go wrong and customers may wish to complain. This Policy sets out how Raven will respond where customers make a complaint.
2.2. Supporting our Customer Experience Strategy and Customer Engagement Framework, complaints are way to demonstrate that we listen and act on concerns. We are committed to viewing complaints positively, learning from mistakes and implementing service improvements. We aim to resolve matters locally and as quickly as possible by being open and accountable.
2.3. We will provide transparent information about the complaints we receive, including trends and data on the type of complaint and volumes and how we are using this information to improve our service.
3. Key Terms and Definitions
3.1. Raven defines a complaint as “an expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, actions or lack of action by the organisation, its own staff, or those acting on its behalf, affecting an individual resident or group of residents.” For example:
• Failure to act or the action taken in response to a request for service
• Failure to deliver a service within our standard or timescales
• Failure to follow an approved policy or procedure
• Behaviour of Raven Housing staff or contractors working on behalf of Raven Housing Trust
4. Details Policy Content
4.1. We positively welcome feedback in the form of complaints from anyone who is affected by a service we provide, or decision taken by us including:
- Residents named on a Raven Housing Trust tenancy for any of our properties, leaseholders, shared owners including applicants.
- Any third party that has been affected by our actions or decisions
- Any person acting behalf of a resident as long as they have had authority to do so. This may include but not limited to a councillor, member of parliament or the Housing Ombudsman
4.2. A complaint can also be made in the form of a petition where a group of customers wishes to raise the same complaint. The petition will be raised as one complaint and responded to the first signatory. In the event of the complaint reaching Stage 2 (4.6) of our formal complaints procedure and a panel meeting is convened, the first signatory may attend along with one other signatory. Details of the outcome of the complaint will be coped to each signatory on the petition once the complaint is resolved.
4.3. We will make it easy for customers to complain, by providing different channels through which customers can make a complaint. This can include email, telephone, letter, online or through social media.
4.4. We will make the complaint policy available in a clear and accessible format for customers including publicising the policy on our website and through regular correspondence with customers.
We will carry out a vulnerability assessment for all complainants to ensure that the appropriate support and access to reasonable adjustments are made available. We may also recommend that the complainant seek support from other services such as advocacy services should they wish to do so.
4.5. If an issue is raised with us, we will endeavour to resolve it quickly at first point of contact. If we are unable to do this within 2 days and in agreement with the complainant we will raise a formal complaint.
4.6. Our formal complaint process comprises of two stages: Formal- Stage One and Review -Stage 2.
FORMAL – STAGE ONE
Stage One will be an investigation carried out by our Customer Experience Team and relevant service delivery team.
Complaints will be acknowledged within 5 working days and responded to within 10 working days.
If the complainant is unhappy with the Stage One response, they can request to escalate to REVIEW Stage Two. A request for escalation must be put in writing within 4 weeks of the Stage One response date.
On receipt of the escalation request, we will set out our understanding of issues outstanding and the outcomes the complainant is seeking. If any aspect of the complaint is unclear, we will ask for clarification and the full definition agreed between both parties.
In instances where we decline to escalate a complaint we will clearly communicate to the complainant in writing, the reasons for not escalating. We will also inform them of their right to approach the Ombudsman about decision providing the Ombudsman details.
REVIEW STAGE TWO
If the complaint is escalated to Appeal – Stage Two, an independent review of the case will be carried out by the Head of Service relevant to the complaint or by the Head of Customer Experience.
Complaints escalated to Stage Two will be responded to within 20 working days.
There is discretion to extend these deadlines which are set out in the Housing Ombudsman Complaint Handling Code. If timescales need to be extended the complainant will be kept informed and updated about any extensions, and those exceeding 10 days at stage one or 20 days at stage two will be agreed with the complainant.
If extended timeframes cannot be agreed with the complainant at any stage, the complainant will be given the Housing Ombudsman’s contact details so that they can challenge the timescale for managing the complaint.
Any individual named in a complaint will not be permitted to be involved in any stage of the complaint investigation due to conflict of interest.
If you remain unhappy following our response at Stage Two, the next stage is for the complainant to approach the Housing Ombudsman Service so they can review the complaint impartially.
4.7. We will not normally consider a complaint if the issue giving rise to the complaint occurred more than 6 months ago. Where the problem is re-occurring, we will consider older reports if this helps resolve the issue. We will consider this where health and safety or illness has prevented a complaint being raised in the 6 months period.
4.8. There are some things that we will not deal with through our complaint’s procedure. These include:
- A first request for action or a service request e.g., first report of a repair
- Reports of anti-social behaviour or nuisance where the issue has not been reported as part of the anti-social behaviour process. We will deal with complaints about the handling of anti-social behaviour or noise complaints.
- Complaints from contractors and organisations Raven holds a contract or service level agreement with. These will be dealt with through the dispute resolution mechanism in the relevant contract or agreement.
- Where legal or regulatory action has already been taken and a determination has been made.
- Insurance claims and appeals including damage to personal possessions and personal injury accidents which should be referred to the relevant insurers.
- The amount of service charges or rent increase set in line with Raven Housing Trust policy
- Where the complaint is raised about the wording of any policy or documented landlord responsibility. We will however use this feedback when the policy, procedure or responsibility are due for review.
4.9. Legal Action
We will not consider complaints where legal proceedings have been issued. This is defined as details of the claim, such as the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim, having been filed at court.
If the complaints process is running alongside a legal case until legal proceedings are issued, we will communicate to the complainant if the complaint process must be stopped. Dependent on the outcome of the legal proceeding we may restart the complaint process where the legal determination does not compromise the outcome of a complaint.
4.10. Where it is justified Raven Housing Trust has the discretion to vary the complaint policy ensuring that accurate and reasonable evidence for doing so is recorded. Any discretion will be applied fairly and appropriately, and complaints will be progressed as far as possible to reach resolution.
4.11. In circumstances where complainants are thought to be unreasonable, unreasonably persistent, or even vexatious, and this behaviour is having a significant or detrimental impact on staff this may affect the way a complaint is dealt with. In these cases, we will decide on the most appropriate way to manage and conclude the complaint. Full details of our response to unreasonable behaviour can be found in Challenging Behaviour Procedure.
5. Approach to Remedies and Resolution
5.1. Our approach when considering remedies to a complaint follows the Housing Ombudsman Service remedy guidance and includes:
Be Fair – we will seek fair outcomes ensuring we treat each case individually and considering the behaviour of complainant as well as our actions
Put Things Right – we will consider a range of measures to put things right for a complainant including financial compensation where appropriate.
Learn from Outcomes – We will ensure that changes are made to policies, procedures, systems, staff training or all of these to reduce future complaints.
5.2. Where a complaint is upheld, we will consider a variety of remedies, which could include:
- An apology – acknowledging an error and taking responsibility
- Specific action – such as completing repairs or changing a decision
- Amending policies or procedures
- Financial compensation – for quantifiable financial loss or other financial redress
5.3. We will normally offer financial remedy based on the Housing Ombudsman Remedy Guidance. It will take into consideration evidence of financial loss, the duration of avoidable distress or inconvenience, seriousness of impact, potential mitigating actions by the complainant, level of rent or service changes, and looking at similar cases.
5.4. The Housing Ombudsman Service is an alternative resolution process and remedies are not intended to be punitive. The Service does not make orders of compensation in the way that a court may order payments of damages.
6. Legislation and Regulation
6.1. This policy is in line with relevant legislation including the Housing Act 1996 (schedule 2), General Data Protection Act 2018, Localism Act 2011, Equality Act 2010, Housing Ombudsman Scheme and Tenant Involvement Empowerment Standards and Government White Paper.
6.2. In the minority of cases where we have not been able to resolve complaint having exhausted our internal complaints procedure, Raven Housing Trust will advise complainants of external options available to them.
6.3. It is mandatory for all local authorities and registered social housing providers to be members of the Ombudsman Scheme. Raven Housing Trust subscribes to the scheme and will provide details of how to escalate to the Housing Ombudsman at each stage of the complaints process.
6.4. Leasehold complaints relating to the setting of service charges have the option of referring the complaint to the First Tier Tribunal.
7. Monitoring and Continuous Learning
7.1. Where a complaint is upheld, we will identify any learnings to prevents an issue reoccurring.
7.2. We will communicate regular updates on the volume, categories and outcome of complaints, alongside complaint handling performance including compliance with the Ombudsman’s orders
7.3. Regular reviews of issues and trends arising from complaint handling will be undertaken and any themes or trends will be assessed by senior managers to identify any potential systemic issues or risk.
7.4. We will communicate complaint data and learnings on our website and in our annual report.
9. Related Policies and References for more Information
- Anti-social behaviour policy
- Managing unreasonable/persistent behaviour policy
- Equality and diversity policy
- Repairs policy (with categories of repair priorities and timescales).
10. Implementation Procedures
10.1. This policy will be implemented through staff training and the Complaints Procedure. All staff involved in complaint handling will be set objectives according to the Complaint Code to ensure accountability and understanding of their role in the complaint handing process.
11. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
11.1. Raven will comply with the Equality Act 2010 and were deemed necessary will make reasonable adjustments to how we except or handle a complaint based on individual needs.
11.2. An Equality Assessment has been carried out for this policy and ongoing monitoring of complainant characteristics will continue to identify any future actions required.