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The latest statistics from the Housing Ombudsman show a significant fall in the overall number of complaints and enquiries.
The figures are 41% lower between April and June this year, and the same period last year. There were 2,212 cases between April and June 2020.
The numbers come from the latest Insight report from the body, which shows the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the volume and nature of complaints received by the Ombudsman over this period.
Despite the overall reduction in the quarter, call volumes were 10% higher compared to 2019 and 33% higher than in 2018.
Looking at specific issues within those calls, there was a greater proportion of enquirers sent to Shelter and Citizens' Advice, with callers looking for advice on rent arrears, Universal Credit and private renting.
Complaints about tenant behaviour over this period increased to 21% of the total, compared to 12% in 2019, while repairs complaints, although still the largest category, reduced from 32% in 2019 to 27% in 2020.
The Ombudsman recognises that occasionally the behaviour or actions of individuals complaining to a landlord make it difficult for the landlord to deal with their complaint.
Three of the six cases featured focus on this issue with a range of findings.
They include a case ruled outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction because of the repeated use of offensive and discriminatory language by the resident.
The report also examines two cases – one concerning gas safety – successfully resolved through mediation, a part of the service the Ombudsman is seeking to expand.
Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “This report clearly shows the impact of the Covid-19 restrictions on complaints, and we hope provides some valuable insight on issues and trends.
"Our cases have a particular emphasis on issues about unacceptable behaviour. While cases such as the one highlighted concerning repeated racist and homophobic language are the minority in our experience, it is important for us to demonstrate that it is not acceptable.
"The report also details recent examples of how we sometimes mediate to resolve cases. We hope that landlords find the report a useful learning tool.”
The report is the third in a continuing series that will now be published quarterly.
It is part of the Ombudsman’s continuing progress towards being a more open and transparent service and promoting positive change by sharing knowledge and learning from its casework.
HQN is delighted to have partnered with the Housing Ombudsman to provide you with an amazing event on repairs. Please visit the event page to find out more.