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| 2 minutes read

Housing Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code becomes statutory

The Housing Ombudsman (‘HO’) and the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (‘LGSCO’) have launched their aligned Complaint Handling Codes aiming to deliver best practice in complaint handling and an improved service for residents, achieved in part by earlier resolution of complaints. 

The introduction of the new Complaint Handling Code ('the Code') follows a period of consultation after the implementation of the Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023 ('the Act'). In addition to the Code, the Act also placed a legal duty on the HO to monitor compliance with the Code (regardless of whether it receives individual complaints from residents about a landlord). It is the first statutory Complaint Handling Code and it will take effect, along with the duty to monitor compliance, from 1 April 2024. 

The Code is noted as giving tenants a ‘robust set of standards for complaints procedures to be accessible, fair and efficient’  by setting out what must be done to procedurally deal with complaints. This will not stop residents from raising complaints directly with the HO. A document setting out tenant expectations is due to be published shorty so a tenant can see what to expect from their landlord.

Much of the new Code remains unchanged but there are some notable differences.

It is important to note that from April 2024 onwards, landlords will need to submit their self-assessment annually to the HO at the same time as they submit their Tenant Satisfaction Measures (‘TSMs’). A self-assessment form is appended to the Code.

The rules differ dependent on the number of homes the landlord has:

  • For landlords with over 1,000 homes this needs to be completed by 30 June 2024.
  • For landlords with under 1,000 homes, they need to submit either 12 weeks after their financial year-end or the date of publication of their TSMs on their website. 

Residents must be able to easily access the self-assessment so it must be published on their websites.

It is important to note that where a landlord does not meet the requirements in any of the areas and does not move into compliance within a reasonable timescale, the HO will issue a Complaint Handling Failure Order (CHFO) and it will be published.

Compliance will be monitored by ensuring the landlord: 

  • has scrutinised and challenged its compliance with the Code, complaints handling performance and learning from complaints and published the outcomes on its website; 
  • complies with the Code in policy, and that any deviations are explained and are reasonable; and 
  • complies with the Code in practice.

There is new guidance to help landlords implement the Code including e-learning support available through the Ombudsman’s Centre for Learning.

So - what can landlords do to ensure they are prepared? The good news is there is a short window prior to introduction where landlords will have time to undertake a review and assess whether or not they will comply with the new Code and what additional steps may be required to achieve compliance/what needs to be amended in their policy. 

The new code is here:

Housing Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code

For more information on the Code or the HO/LGSCO, please contact Donna McCarthy.


housing management & property litigation, property management, social housing, housing management & property litigation brief, housing associations, landlords, property managers, registered providers, housing sector