The Housing Ombudsman has launched a consultation for social housing landlords on its proposed approach for issuing good practice and potential topics.

The Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023 gives the ombudsman the power to issue guidance to members on good practice in the carrying on of housing activities.

The ombudsman says the overarching aim of good practice is to drive improvements in housing provision through learning from complaints, and its proposed approach is to encourage all landlords to self-assess at the point of issue, rather than wait for a complaint about the topic area and an order from the ombudsman to do so.

According to the ombudsman, good practice is not best practice and there may be entirely justifiable reasons a landlord feels unable to implement it – the purpose of the self-assessment is to record those reasons and for them to be scrutinised by the governing body.

The consultation seeks feedback on the ombudsman’s principles of good practice and proposed approach to delivering good practice.

The ombudsman is also seeking feedback on potential topics for the first good practice, which includes:

  • Making an effective apology
  • Deciding on appropriate levels of compensation
  • Effective complaint handling during merger or stock transfer
  • Effective root cause analysis of complaints
  • Knowledge and information management.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “Almost every day we are asked: what does good look like? This is a brilliant question to be asked because it recognises the role that complaints play to support the development of effective policy and practice. This is where good practice comes in.

“The ability to issue good practice is a new power for the ombudsman contained in the Social Housing (Regulation) Act but it has perhaps had less focus to date. This consultation sets out what it is and how we will approach it. It is an opportunity for you to help shape it, to maximise the benefits for landlords and residents.

“While Spotlight reports often recommend areas for landlords to develop policy, the role of good practice will help us be more focused and specific based on our casework and feedback through the consultation that will take place before we issue the guidance. This good practice will also be accompanied by a self-assessment tool to help landlords apply it.

“This consultation proposes areas where we might issue good practice – ranging from effective apologies to rebuild trust with a resident through to the effective handling of complaints during merger or organisational change. We would welcome your ideas and suggestions too.”

The consultation will run from 26 March until 21 May. The ombudsman has invited landlords to participate and provide their feedback, which you can find through this survey.