This year the Housing Ombudsman has introduced a new monitoring process for tracking compliance with orders. It has shown high levels of compliance among member landlords, currently standing at 96% of orders implemented within one month and 100% within three months.
It confirms that landlords respect the quality of the Ombudsman’s decisions and the relevance of our orders.
When deciding on an order and what it should be we apply our dispute resolution principles of being fair, seeking to put things right when they have gone wrong and ensuring learning from complaints is captured. A new quality assurance process has been introduced this year which helps to improve the consistency of our decisions.
The high level of compliance reflects the high level of positive feedback received from member landlords. We seek customer feedback from both landlords and tenants every two weeks after cases have closed. We use the feedback to drive improvements at organisational, team and individual level, and to inform our decision making.
The Housing Ombudsman uses orders and recommendations to affect a remedy for any maladministration or service failure, but also as a driver for service improvement. As a result, both landlords and residents may benefit from compliance.
The Housing Ombudsman Scheme sets out that the Ombudsman will determine complaints by what is fair in all the circumstances and that she may make orders or recommendations following a determination. This may include orders to pay compensation or to perform any of the obligations set out in the occupancy agreement.
When deciding whether to make an order and what this should be we apply our dispute resolution principles:
- Be fair - treat people fairly and follow fair processes
- Put things right
- Learn from outcomes
We consider whether the landlord needs to take action to put things right for the complainant and, following this, whether there are lessons that can be learnt from the complaint and captured in an order or recommendation to help improve future service delivery.
Using our orders to implement service improvements
In this way the orders and recommendations we make reflect our dual role:
‘to resolve disputes involving members of the Scheme, including making awards of compensation or other remedies when appropriate …
to support effective landlord-tenant dispute resolution by others’
We use our orders and recommendations to affect service improvements and to support and reflect good practice that we see across the sector.
1. A leaking toilet caused additional water charges of in excess of £400. We ordered that the landlord paid compensation for the loss incurred and the breach of the repair covenant totalling £616.85, and reviewed its repair categorisations to enable it to treat such leaks as an emergency and resolve more quickly.
2. Where a rewire was necessary as part of a repair we ordered the landlord to make good the decorations in the room as part of its repairing obligation. We also ordered that repairs staff were made aware of the full repairing obligation and that policy guidance reflected this.
Member landlords are expected to comply with the orders of the Ombudsman and to confirm compliance with any order to the Ombudsman. Ensuring our orders are fair and relevant is therefore vital. Our members need to understand the reasoning behind our orders and see the benefits of both putting things right and capturing the learning.
Compliance is high with 96% of orders within one month and 100% within three months. The value of our orders is clearly recognised by our members who engage with us to learn and improve the service delivered to customers.
The orders and recommendations we make are one small part of the work we do to improve standards across the sector. We seek to continually learn and to promote empowerment and learning for our members through continuous engagement and knowledge sharing.