On 23 November 2021 the Housing Ombudsman published its latest Insight report covering the period July to September 2021. The report shows an 83% increase in the volume of enquiries and complaints received compared to the same quarter in 2020.
The Insight report confirms that the Housing Ombudsman received 6,595 enquiries and complaints during the period. Although many problems form the basis for complaint, the issue of complaints relating to poor property conditions remains and the report highlights a case concerning damp and mould, evidencing how a resident was impacted by delays in dealing with the issue. Property condition made up 39% of the complaints for the period.
Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, has commented that the Insight reports, published quarterly, have evidenced the use of mediation services, emphasising “the importance of landlords having clear complaints policies and ensuring that staff follow the policies in place.”
The latest Insight report follows the Housing Ombudsman’s Spotlight report on damp and mould, published last month. The Spotlight report was published following a call for evidence. It emphasises that landlords must take a zero tolerance approach to damp and mould and that this requires changes in culture, behaviour and approach, from being reactive to proactive. The report highlights the importance of engaging in Alternative Dispute Resolution before a claim is brought and the role of landlords in promoting their complaints process and the availability of the Ombudsman as a route to resolution.
The Spotlight report sets out 26 recommendations for landlords, including but not limited to, the following:
- Considering the need for a framework or specific policy to address damp and mould;
- Reviewing information and support provided to residents including engaging with residents in design of information;
- Ensuring staff are trained to spot signs of damp and mould and are acting in accordance with policies and procedures in place.
We would recommend that all landlords familiarise themselves with the Spotlight report and take active steps to implement the recommendations.
Should you require any assistance with implementing the recommendations, to include drafting a damp and mould policy, a review of your complaints policy and procedure and an audit of existing material, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Victoria Smith. We are also happy to share our free handy toolkit, setting out the steps landlords should be taking to show compliance with the recommendations.