Housing Complaints

What is a complaint?

At Wealden District Council a complaint is defined as: “An expression of dissatisfaction about our services, or the manner of their delivery by staff or contractors”.

Through our complaints procedure you can complain about:

  • The behaviour of a person delivering a service for or on behalf of the Council
  • A failure to provide a service at the level or standard expected by the Council
  • A failure to follow the Council’s agreed policies, rules or procedures
  • A failure to consider all information in coming to a decision
  • A failure to inform people of their rights
  • Malice, bias or unfair discrimination and in particular discrimination or harassment on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, gender and sexual orientation

If you have a complaint about a Contractor, you should contact the Council only after the Contractor’s complaints procedure has been exhausted.

Customer comments, requests for service or reports of problems are not considered to be complaints and will not be recorded as such but passed to the relevant department for consideration.

Stage 2 of the Complaints Process

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive about your complaint at Stage 1 you can request a “Stage 2” investigation. In determining whether to admit such a request for a stage 2 complaint, there are 2 consideration.

1) Does the request contains any new information that supports the original complaint?

2) The second criterion is whether the complaint was answered fully at Stage 1 and therefore, whether the right conclusion has been reached.

Complaints Outcomes

Complaints can be:

Upheld – the investigating Officer considered the Council had made mistakes or provided a poor service.

Not up held – the investigating Officer considered the Council to have acted correctly or that it had made mistakes but had already done what would be expected to put things right.

Partially Upheld – the investigating officer found that the Council got some things wrong, but not all those complained about or there was no negative effect on anyone.  

The word justified/not justified is used interchangeably with the word upheld/not upheld.

What if I am not happy after the 2 stage Complaints Process has been used?

If you are still not satisfied you can contact a ‘designated person’ using the directory on the housing ombudsman service website http://www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk  This may be an MP, local councillor or a tenant panel person. Designated people are trained in dispute resolution and will work with the tenant/leaseholder and the landlord to resolve the situation. If you chose not to contact a designated person you must wait 8 weeks from receiving your response from us to your stage 2 complaint before using the Housing Ombudsman service. If the designated person is unable to resolve the matter 8 weeks from the end of the landlord’s complaint process then they will refer the complaint to the ombudsman. (The designated person or 8 week wait will shortly be going).

Who is the Housing Ombudsman and what is their role?

The Housing Ombudsman Service is set up by law to look at complaints about the social landlords that are registered with them. All local authorities with housing stock are required to be registered. They resolve disputes involving the tenants and leaseholders of social landlords. The service is free, independent and impartial.

The housing ombudsman will contact both parties to explore how the complaint can be resolved locally. It may decide to work more directly with the landlord, tenant or designated person. In cases when a complaint cannot be resolved locally they will carry out an investigation.

How to make a complaint using the Housing Ombudsman Service
After you have used our complaints procedure, if you are still unsatisfied you can decide to continue with a formal complaint. The service will accept a letter or a phone call as a formal complaint but before they can consider the matter further you must provide your signed permission to contact the landlord. To do this you will need to complete a form either online or by post.

Visit the housing ombudsman website for more information or to download a form:
http://www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk/  or phone 0300 111 3000 Monday to Friday

This form gives the Housing Ombudsman permission to contact us as you landlord.  The Ombudsman will aim to support a resolution between us and you. If this cannot be done then they will investigate complaints, provided they have the power to do so (see their website for more information).  

The Ombudsman may uphold or reject your complaint or make orders or recommendations, including that we apologise to you, pay you compensation, undertake or refrain from undertaking works etc.

 

Details Of Housing Complaints 

 

Below are details of all the complaints made against the whole Housing Service during Quarter 4 2020-21 (1 January 2021 until 31 March 2021). It is worth noting that all but 3 stage 1 complaints and all stage 2 complaints were from the same customer. 

Stage 1 Formal Complaints:

 

Case Details

Service Area

Outcome

Financial errors regarding service charges summaries

Housing Management

Upheld because we failed to advise the complainant why their previous correspondence which the complaint was based upon was neither recorded as a complaint nor the complainant notified or the reasons for not doing so

Gutter clearing and lack of response by the Court Manager. Complaint against an officer for comments made regarding complaints at Cabinet

Housing Management

Upheld because we failed to advise the complainant why their previous correspondence which the complaint was based upon was neither recorded as a complaint nor the complainant notified or the reasons for not doing so

Contractor had not carried out works to beds and borders as per the contract. Complaint against an officer for comments made about his complaints at Cabinet

Housing Management

Upheld because we failed to advise the complainant why their previous correspondence which the complaint was based upon was neither recorded as a complaint nor the complainant notified or the reasons for not doing so

Failure to be included in an online consultation. Complaint against an officer for comments made about complaints at Cabinet

Housing Management

Upheld because we failed to advise the complainant why their previous correspondence which the complaint was based upon was neither recorded as a complaint nor the complainant notified or the reasons for not doing so

Financial errors regarding service charges summaries

Housing Management

Upheld because we failed to advise the complainant why their previous correspondence which the complaint was based upon was neither recorded as a complaint nor the complainant notified or the reasons for not doing so

Court Manager not complying with the duties of their role

Housing Management

Upheld because we failed to advise the complainant why their previous correspondence which the complaint was based upon was neither recorded as a complaint nor the complainant notified or the reasons for not doing so

Warden call service charges

Housing Management

Upheld because we failed to advise the complainant why their previous correspondence which the complaint was based upon was neither recorded as a complaint nor the complainant notified or the reasons for not doing so

Overcharging of service charges in 2018-19 and estimated charges in 2020-21

Housing Management

Upheld because we failed to advise the complainant why their previous correspondence which the complaint was based upon was neither recorded as a complaint nor the complainant notified or the reasons for not doing so

Cost of electricity and television licences

Housing Management

Upheld because we failed to advise the complainant why their previous correspondence which the complaint was based upon was neither recorded as a complaint nor the complainant notified or the reasons for not doing so

Behaviour of court manager – attending on site when they were isolating for 10 days after being in contact with someone with Covid

Housing Management

Not Upheld as the court manager acted appropriately within NHS advice

Cost of scheme manager during lockdown period: 1) unsatisfactory that the Council asks the Court Manager to work from home
2) It has not been noticed that the Court Manager was working from home
3) It is not known when the Court Manager attends site
4) The Court Manager does not occupy their office but conceals themselves in a room elsewhere
5) The Court Manager does not sign into the building
6) The Court Manager does not always park their car in the assigned parking space
7) The Court Manager deliberately avoids residents
8) When the Court Manager does attend site, they are often not there for the whole day
9) Requests for repairs have not been carried out
10) An observation on how a non-response should be dealt with by the Court Manager as they only attend on site on Tuesdays and Thursdays

Housing Management

Not Upheld as the court manager was found to be acting appropriately

Breach of the lease by the council with regards to external decorations

Housing Management

Not upheld as the wording of the lease states”…renew, amend and clean when and as necessary and appropriate..” and this is not currently the case

Differences in Tenant and Leaseholder Service Charges 2020-21

Housing Management

Upheld because we failed to advise the complainant why their previous correspondence which the complaint was based upon was neither recorded as a complaint nor the complainant notified or the reasons for not doing so

Enquiry made on the major works programme following receipt of documents.  Complaint regarding a lack of response to their enquiry on 29th December 2020 (received 11th January 2021). No response received to their complaint dated 29th December 2020.

Property Services

Upheld because we failed to advise the complainant why their previous correspondence which the complaint was based upon was neither recorded as a complaint nor the complainant notified or the reasons for not doing so

Overcharging of Services 2018-19 and in the Estimated Charge in 2020-21

Housing Management

Upheld because we failed to advise the complainant why their previous correspondence which the complaint was based upon was neither recorded as a complaint nor the complainant notified or the reasons for not doing so

Lack of Response to your Complaint Regarding Outside Painting to Cherry Tree Court and Hillside Drive Properties

Property Services

Not Upheld as we responded within the time frame outlined in the acknowledgement

Complaint about an overcharge of service charges in 2019-20 for costs associated with cost centres HB12 and HD03.

Housing Management

Not upheld. Any of the issues had previously been responded to

The lack of carpet cleaning in 2019. The lack of window cleaning in July 2020. Complaints re; no bin cleaning since 2013

Housing Management

Upheld because we failed to advise the complainant why their previous correspondence which the complaint was based upon was neither recorded as a complaint nor the complainant notified or the reasons for not doing so

Unhappy that they had been issued a community protection notice for smoking cannabis in the property.  Stated that our records show that they have a disability and yet they were offered a second floor flat.  Were bullied while living at their previous address and feel the Council did nothing to prevent it or help them. Unhappy with the way Council officers spoke to them at their tenancy sign-up. Concerns over how the Council dealt with matters relating to a dispute with neighbour at previous property.

Housing Management & Housing Options

Not upheld – We have obligation to protect other residents from illegal and anti-social behaviour caused by such activity as smoking cannabis. No medical evidence showing this to be the case and the complaint had themselves bid on the second floor flat. Previous issue with neighbour had been dealt with in accordance with our Anti-social behaviour policy

Poor handling of concerns by named officers who were rude and mocked family’s circumstances. Compliant about the department as a whole as they did not seem to understand the urgency of the families need to move. Despite repeated request they were not given an estimated timescale of when their new property would be ready to move into. That the Council do not keep master keys for all of its properties. Do not believe there are delays with contractors and cleaners. Stairs need to be made safe by the Occupational Therapists, regardless of the cost.

Housing Management

Not upheld, for a number of reasons, including that there was no evidence to suggest officers were any more than assertive. Delays in making the property ready for letting was almost exclusively a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. 

Upset that Housing Officer had contacted Adult Social Care following a visit by a member of the property services team to look a problem with damp

Housing Management

Not upheld, the condition of the property was off such concern that a referral was made to see if any support and assistance could be provided

 

Stage 2 Complaints 

 

Case Details

Service Area

Outcome

The HRA annual revenue that was accrued for 2017-18; 2018-19 and 2019-20 wasn’t used when determining the deficit or surplus in annual service charges. That the Council used its own estimated service charge figure and compared that figure to the actual incurred service charge. That the final calculation signed by the Chief Financial Officer is incorrect as we used estimated costs for each year. Because the Council uses its own calculation, that the Council has over charged service charge payers up to the sum of £13,713.44 or £253.95 per service charge payer.

Housing Management

Not upheld – sufficient grounds to escalate the complaint were not demonstrated

Gutter Cleaning and lack of response by Court Manager

Housing Management

Not upheld – sufficient grounds to escalate the complaint were not demonstrated

Idverde Costs 2020-21 and inaccurate Cabinet Report

Housing Management

Not upheld – sufficient grounds to escalate the complaint were not demonstrated

Draft Service Charge Policy Consultation and inaccurate Cabinet Report

Housing Management

Not upheld – sufficient grounds to escalate the complaint were not demonstrated

Court Manager not complying with the duties of their role

Housing Management

Not upheld – sufficient grounds to escalate the complaint were not demonstrated

Overcharging of warden call service charges

Housing Management

Not upheld – sufficient grounds to escalate the complaint were not demonstrated

2020-21 cost of electricity and television licences and an adequate response to stage 1 complaint was not received

Housing Management

Not upheld – sufficient grounds to escalate the complaint were not demonstrated