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Corporate Complaints Policy

Social housing complaints

Complaints relating to the council's role as social landlord will be dealt with in line with the Housing Ombudsman's Complaint Handling Code.   (opens new window)

A complaint can be resolved at any time during the following two stages.  

Stage one - investigation of the complaint   

  • When a complaint is made, it must be acknowledged and logged at stage one of the complaints procedure within five days of receipt.
  • A response must be provided to the complaint within 10 working days of the complaint being logged or, exceptionally, an explanation containing a clear timeframe for when the response will be received which should not exceed a further 10 days without good reason should be provided.
  • An extension beyond 20 working days to enable the landlord to respond to the complaint fully, should be agreed by both parties and if it is not agreed, the Housing Ombudsman's contact details should be provided to the complainant.
  • A complaint response must be sent to the resident when the answer to the complaint is known, not when the outstanding actions required to address the issue, are completed. 
  • Additional complaints raised during the investigation should be incorporated into the stage one response if they are relevant. If the stage one response has been issued, or it would unreasonably delay the response, the complaint should be logged as a new complaint. 
  • Landlords must confirm the following in writing to the resident at the completion of stage one in clear, plain language: 
    • the complaint stage 
    • the complaint definition 
    • the decision on the complaint 
    • the reasons for any decisions made 
    • the details of any remedy offered to put things right 
    • details of any outstanding actions 
    • details of how to escalate the matter to stage two if the resident is not satisfied   with the answer

If they are still unhappy, they can request a review of their complaint by the Chief Executive. This must be done within 10 working days of receiving the results.

Stage 2 - Review of the Complaint 

If a complainant is still dissatisfied after stage one, the complaint will be referred to the Chief Executive who will conduct an independent and impartial review into both the handling and outcome of the complaint and provide a full response to the complainant within twenty working days. However, this time period may be extended because of the complexity of the complaint.

When the Council has finished considering a complaint it will tell complainants how they can pursue their complaint with the Housing Ombudsman.

  • If the landlord declines to escalate a complaint it must set out in writing its reasons and the resident's right to approach the Housing Ombudsman about its decision. 
  • Landlords must only escalate a complaint to stage two once it has completed stage one and at the request of the resident. 
  • The person considering the complaint at stage two, must not be the same person that considered the complaint at stage one. 
  • Landlords must respond to the stage two complaint within 20 working days of the complaint being escalated or, exceptionally, an explanation containing a clear timeframe for when the response will be received which should not exceed a further 10 days without good reason should be provided 
  • An extension beyond 10 working days to enable the landlord to respond to the complaint fully, should be agreed by both parties and if it is not agreed, the Housing Ombudsman's contact details should be provided to the complainant.
  • Landlords must confirm the following in writing to the resident at the completion of stage two in clear, plain language: 
    • the complaint stage 
    • the complaint definition 
    • the decision on the complaint 
    • the reasons for any decisions made 
    • the details of any remedy offered to put things right 
    • details of any outstanding actions and 
    • details of how to escalate the matter to the Housing Ombudsman Service if the resident remains dissatisfied

The Housing Ombudsman Service

The Housing Ombudsman Service can assist complainants throughout the life of a complaint. This affords the complainant the opportunity to engage with the Housing Ombudsman's dispute support advisors.

Complainants should be provided with advice, at the point a complaint is acknowledged, regarding their right to access the Housing Ombudsman Service, not only at the point they have exhausted the complaints process.

The Housing Ombudsman will investigate complaints relating to the housing services the Council provides, such as rent, repairs and estate management. If a customer wants the Housing Ombudsman to consider their complaint, they must first complete The Council's internal complaints process. Once this is concluded they can either ask a designated person to refer the complaint to the Housing Ombudsman or wait eight weeks and then contact the Housing Ombudsman themselves. In Gateshead a designated person can be any MP, or any local Councillor.