Case Study 21: Complaint handling

Mrs C is a leaseholder and complained to her landlord about its handling of her complaint.

We investigated and made a finding of maladministration. The landlord had failed to progress Mrs C’s complaint when she requested this and therefore missed an opportunity to resolve at least some of Mrs C’s complaints at an earlier point. The landlord’s failure to escalate Mrs C’s complaint exacerbated her dissatisfaction and added an additional element to her complaint about the landlord’s lack of response to her emails as well as prompting her contact with us.  

The landlord had offered Mrs C compensation of £150 for its handling of her complaint. Whilst this may have been considered appropriate redress in some circumstances, this was not the first occasion on which the landlord had failed to escalate Mrs C’s complaint through the complaints procedure. Our previous investigation identified delays in the landlord issuing complaint responses but did not find maladministration. This was because the landlord had offered Mrs C compensation of £250 and in its action plan, identified that complaint timescales in its policy and procedure needed to be followed and that there would be ongoing training and briefing of staff to ensure improvements. This time the same issues arose again, in so far as there had again been delays in the landlord responding to Mrs C’s complaints. To treat people fairly a landlord should be clear where responsibility lies for any action, including resolving the dispute. In order to achieve local resolution, it is appropriate for a landlord to try to resolve the issue at the earliest opportunity so it can put things right. A landlord should progress a complaint to the next stage unless there is a compelling reason not to

Whilst the landlord offered Mrs C compensation of £150 for this repeat failure, it is not an effective way to handle complaints to pay complainants compensation every time there is a failure in a landlord’s complaints handling process. It is more beneficial for the landlord, and the service it provides to all of its residents that it learns from the outcome of a complaint. However, if a complainant’s position cannot be restored by other means, financial compensation should be made.

We ordered the landlord to pay Mrs C compensation of £150 previously offered by the panel as well as additional compensation of £100 for any distress and inconvenience caused by its handling of her complaint.