Guidance on best practice for landlords during COVID-19

Tuesday 21 April 2020

The Housing Ombudsman Service has published new guidance for landlords on complaint handling amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance sets out best practice on engaging with the Ombudsman, along with guidance on dealing with complaints raised by tenants during this time and covers the following:

  • Dealing with repairs
  • Complaints about repairs
  • Complaints about anti-social behaviour
  • Access to the complaints procedure
  • Providing information to the Ombudsman
  • Orders and recommendations.

In March, the Ombudsman published its business plan for 2020-21 together with a revised scheme that was scheduled to take effect from 1 July 2020, however, because of the current situation the Ombudsman is now looking to introduce the new provisions in September 2020 to allow for engagement with the sector ahead of implementation.

The revised Scheme includes the following new provisions:

  • A new power that allows the Ombudsman to issue complaint handling failure orders when a complaint gets stuck in the landlord’s process or where landlords do not provide evidence requested by the Ombudsman in a timely manner.
  • A 'severe maladministration' finding to clarify the range of determinations from service failure to maladministration to severe maladministration, together with a requirement for the landlord to demonstrate learning after the Ombudsman’s decision.
  • A more proactive approach in identifying possible systemic failure and to undertake further investigation either into an individual landlord or sector-wide issues.
  • Developing a new complaint handling code to achieve greater consistency across landlords’ complaint procedures.

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