What is a complaint?
The Housing Ombudsman defines a complaint as “An expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, actions or lack of action by the organisation, its own staff, or those acting on its behalf, affecting an individual resident or group of residents”.
Situations that may lead to a complaint include when:
- we fail to meet our legal duties, promises or standards we have set
- we do something wrong, poorly, or fail to do something we should
- we are impolite or unhelpful
A complaint should be brought to us within six months of the problem coming to your attention so that we can investigate it properly and put things right. However, we understand there may be exceptional circumstances that stopped the complaint being raised earlier and each case will be considered on its own merit.
There are circumstances which we wouldn’t handle under the complaints process such as:
- a first request for a service or information, or we have not exceeded the timescales set out in our service standards
- the complaint is about another resident, for example a report of anti-social behaviour
- the complaint's not about our housing service - if it's about council tax, school admissions, penalty charges, or anything else, see our main complaints page
- if you’re not sure if we will handle your issue, please contact us for guidance - you can also contact the Housing Ombudsman for guidance and support
Who can make a complaint?
- anyone who is, or has been, in a landlord/tenant relationship with either Lewisham Homes or Lewisham Council - this includes people who have a lease, tenancy, licence to occupy, service agreement or other arrangement to occupy premises
- an applicant for a property owned or managed by Lewisham Council
- a representative of the people given above as we understand that you may be unable, or reluctant, to make a complaint yourself
However, we want to hear from everyone who is unhappy with our services, as there may be exceptions to the above. We will always let you know how your issue will be taken forward and the next steps available to you.
How will you deal with my issue?
Many problems can be resolved quickly without the need for a formal complaint. We always encourage this approach as the first step to resolving many issues, as it is often the easiest and quickest way to achieve a positive outcome for you.
These expressions of dissatisfaction will be logged on our systems so we can monitor and understand where we are not meeting expectations, and use this information to improve our services.
In the circumstances when we have been unable to resolve your issue, it will be logged as a complaint and handled under our complaints process.
What is the complaints process?
Our complaints process has the following stages:
- an investigating officer is appointed, and whenever possible, will contact you by telephone to talk through your complaint to understand the issues, the impact they have had on you, and how you would like your complaint resolved
- once the investigating officer has investigated your complaint, they will send you their response within 10 working days notifying you of the outcome of their review and what we will do to put things right
- if they cannot respond fully to you within 10 working days, they will let you know that more time is needed and the reason why. (Usually a maximum of an additional 10 working days)
- if you do not agree with the outcome of your complaint at stage 1 or the actions proposed to resolve it, you may decide to escalate your case to stage 2 of the complaints process - if this is the case, you should let the Customer Relations team know within 20 working days from the date of the response letter
- a different officer will be appointed, and their role is not usually to reinvestigate the issues you have raised, but to review the actions and decisions taken at stage 1 to check that they were thorough, reasonable and fair
- once the allocated officer has looked into your case, they will send you their response within 20 working days to let you know the outcome and any additional actions to be taken to resolve it
- again, if they are unable to respond fully to you within 20 working days, they will let you know if more time is needed and why (usually a maximum of an additional 10 working days)
- if you are still not happy with the outcome of your complaint after stage 2 has been completed, you can ask our Stage 3 Adjudicator to review your case or contact the Housing Ombudsman
What happens if I’m still not happy after my complaint has been through all the stages?
You can contact the Housing Ombudsman at any stage for guidance and support.
We hope that we will have resolved your complaint to your satisfaction. However, if your complaint has completed the complaints process and you are still unhappy, you can refer your complaint to the Housing Ombudsman who is responsible for investigating social housing complaints. The Housing Ombudsman can be contacted:
Telephone: 0300 111 3000
How can I contact you about my complaint?
You can make a complaint face to face to a member of staff, by phone, in writing using the freepost address, Freepost LEWISHAM HOMES or by completing the online form.
The policy sets out our policy with regard to handling complaints up to and including the role of the Housing Ombudsman.
This policy is designed to work alongside our Complaints policy to resolve complaints fairly and consistently, which is in line with the Social Housing Regulator’s Resident Involvement and Empowerment Standard. This policy has been written in line with the Housing Ombudsman’s dispute resolution principles and expanded to reflect our approach to dealing with reports of dissatisfaction.