Barnsbury Housing Association (BHA) aims to provide landlord services which consistently meet residents’ needs. As part of this commitment, BHA has adopted policy and procedures which aim to resolve any complaints effectively, within set targets and to the satisfaction of the person bringing the complaint.
BHA will make a distinction between a complaint and reporting of incidents e.g. anti social behaviour, rubbish dumping. If we don’t then try to resolve or contain these incidents then these may become complaints but it is important to distinguish between a complaint where BHA is at fault and incidents which are outside our immediate control
Residents will be actively encouraged to make suggestions and comments and unless these are made in the context of a service breakdown they will not be treated as complaints.
BHA will investigate all complaints made about its service to residents and other clients. BHA will ensure that the Complaints Policy & Procedures is available on the web and in the office. The Policy will include the timeframes for dealing with complaints and the different stages for investigation when a complainant is not satisfied with responses.
If a resident or client is not satisfied with the investigation or outcome, he or she has a right to complain to the Independent Housing Ombudsman.
BHA’s complaints policy is based on the following principles:
- complaints will be dealt with promptly, courteously, systematically, and fairly;
- complaints will be dealt with in confidence;
- complainants will be kept informed of progress and the outcome of any investigation;
- complaints will be recorded, monitored and acknowledged where appropriate;
- complainants will have the right, at their own cost, to have a friend or advocate present at any interview
- complainants with special needs, language difficulties or any other issue which affects their ability to make a complaint and have it addressed will be provided with assistance where necessary.
- BHA will use the complaints system to learn from any mistakes and to seek to improve its service to customers;
- where any complaint is upheld BHA will offer an appropriate apology, and will seek to put the complainant in the position he or she enjoyed before the mistake was made;
- BHA will publish information about its performance against standards and targets in3
- BHA staff likely to be involved in handling complaints will receive appropriate training.
A Complaints leaflet complaint is available from the Association’s office.
3 Who can make a complaint?
The Complaint Policy and Procedure are available to anyone who receives or requests a service from BHA, and those acting on their behalf. This will include all residents, prospective residents and former residents [subject to time limits on bringing complaints under the procedures]; contractors and consultants; Citizen’s Advice Bureau and other similar advisory agencies.
Complaints can be made in person at the office, by telephone, in writing, by e-mail or text.
Where serious allegations are made then BHA will normally ask for written confirmation of the allegation in order to be very clear about the details under investigation. Staff complaints will be dealt with under BHA Grievance Policy which is set out in the Contract of Employment
4 What types of complaints are covered?
A complaint will normally relate to the service provided by BHA. These are:
- Dissatisfaction with any service provided by the Association or its contractors
- Dissatisfaction with the way BHA has reached a decision or with the actions taken in implementing that decision
- Complaints about the conduct of the Association’s staff or its contractors
- Complaints about the way requests for information have been handled
- Complaints about the Association’s administrative processes and delays in these processes;
Anonymous complaints will be considered but our ability to respond will be impaired and we strongly encourage residents to feel they can make complaints in strict confidence.
5 The Complaints Procedure
Residents who are dissatisfied with the service they receive should raise the matter with the Housing Manager (rents/allocations/housing management issues/community development) or Contracts Manager (repairs/maintenance/caretaking) as appropriate.
BHA will make every effort to resolve the complaint at this stage by finding an immediate solution agreed with the complainant. Informal complaints will be logged and recorded.
Where the complainant is happy to have their concerns dealt with informally the relevant staff member will acknowledge this within 2 working days and respond fully within 5 working days If the problem cannot be resolved through this initial contact, it can be pursued as a formal complaint.
Stage 1 – Formal Complaint – Housing Manager or Property Manager
A complainant wishing to make a formal complaint can either make a complaint in writing or over the telephone. Standard forms can be provided to ensure that complaints are properly recorded and monitored. If a complaint is made over the telephone, the member of staff taking the complaint will note the issues and read back the note to the complainant to ensure that we have properly understood and recorded the issue.
The Formal Stage 1 complaint will be acknowledged within 2 working days and a full response will be made within 5 working days. Where this is not possible the Housing or Property Manager will set out a timetable for response within the 5 days and explain why there are delays in providing a full response.
If the complainant is not satisfied with the Stage 1 formal response then a further complaint can made to Stage 2
Stage 2 – Formal Complaint to Chief Executive
The Formal Stage 2 complaint will be acknowledged within 2 working days. The Chief Executive will investigate the complaint, the action taken to date and the outcome sought by the person bringing the complaint. The Chief Executive will make a recommendation for resolving the complaint and will write to the complainant within 10 working days of the complaint being referred, advising him or her of the recommendation.
If the complainant is not satisfied with the suggested outcome, he or she may pursue the complaint to the final stage of the procedure.
Stage 3 – Appeal to the Board of Management
The Chief Executive, within 2 working days of receipt, will notify the complainant of the date on which the Board of Management will consider the complaint. Complainants are given the opportunity to present their case in person or to have a friend accompany them and speak on their behalf. Within 5 working days of the Board meeting the Chief Executive will write to the complainant advising him or her of the outcome.
If the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome he or she will be advised to contact the Housing Ombudsman Service.
It might become clear during investigations that it will be difficult to resolve a complaint. This can arise when there is no “right and wrong” but a difference of opinion about the best way to go about things. In these situations BHA will offer professional mediation using an independent mediator agreed with the complainant.
6 Designated Person/ Housing Ombudsman Service
Councillor Rowena Champion is the Designated Person to whom complaints will be referred if not resolved at Stage 3. She will decide whether to submit the complaint to the Housing Ombudsman if we cannot resolve the complaint with his intervention and advice.
BHA will ensure that the resident is aware of their right to approach Councillor Champion and also of their right to approach the Housing Ombudsman personally if Councillor Champion does not refer their case or resolve it within 8 weeks of his receipt of the complaints.
BHA will ensure that the complainant has up to date details of the Housing Ombudsman’s address and contact details. These are currently:
81 Aldwych, London WC2B 4HN ( firstname.lastname@example.org : tel 0300 111 3000)
On receipt of a request from the Housing Ombudsman, BHA will make all relevant files and records available to the Ombudsman.
If a complaint is upheld and the complainant has endured long or particularly difficult periods of inconvenience, distress or monetary loss then BHA will refer to the Compensation Policy and negotiate a settlement with the complainant. No compensation will be payable to a third party.
Where financial claims are made against BHA which will involve us in notifying our insurers, then we will not be able to enter into discussion and correspondence in respect of that complaint until the claim has been dealt with by the insurers.
8 Recording, monitoring and evaluating complaints
All complaints received will be monitored and recorded beginning with the date received, the nature of the complaint, the date action was taken and the nature of the action taken. A written record will be kept of action at all stages of the Complaint Procedure.
The Chief Executive will report to the Board of Management on a regular basis on complaints received and their outcomes. BHA will publish annual performance on Complaints management in its Annual Report to Residents.